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Crumbling state of Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School in Canterbury revealed in planning application

By Joe Wright

The formal submission of plans to demolish a crumbling city grammar school has revealed the extent of the site’s dilapidation.

Parts of Simon Langton Girls’ have fallen into “significant levels of disrepair” - with an inspection carried out in autumn 2017 listing more than 600 defects.

Concrete cracks and blisters blight the main teaching block, while a second-hand mobile unit used for Design and Technology has gone “well beyond its intended lifespan” as it suffers from leaks, rotten timberwork and missing fixings.

Simon Langton School for Girls
Simon Langton School for Girls

The outdated electrical system at the Old Dover Road school is at such capacity that if four fan heaters are plugged in, the system overloads.

Due to its poor state, school bosses are backing multimillion-pound plans to flatten the site and replace it with a new school on neighbouring land.

Revealed by KentOnline in November, the proposals - which are thought to cost about £20 million - are now in the hands of Kent County Council planning officers.

The key focus is to deliver a modern three-storey teaching block by November 2020, along with a new sports hall and multi-use games area.

If given the go-ahead, the reconstruction, which aims to mirror the much-loved design of the existing art deco school, will boast more efficient heating and electrical systems.

How the new-build grammar school will look
How the new-build grammar school will look

Documents in the application say the current systems are “at the end of their life”, as heat loss plagues the main building - exposing pupils to “continual temperature extremes, making the working and learning environment hostile”.

A Department for Education feasibility study, which says dangerous pieces of concrete are regularly removed, reads: “While there is no immediate danger to life, the situation is keenly monitored.

"Areas around the perimeter of the school building are cordoned off and signed as dangerous from the risk of falling concrete debris.

"In many areas steel supports are now visible where the steel has rusted.”

The proposed redevelopment - funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency - comes as part of a nationwide project to rebuild 227 schools.

Head teacher Dr Matthew Baxter says the school thrives despite the “many challenges” with the current building.

He added: “With the planning application and the proposal for the new building we have an opportunity to ensure that our students and staff have the facilities they deserve, whilst also providing for future generations of Langton students.”

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