Published: 15:52, 05 December 2019
| Updated: 16:01, 05 December 2019
A historic grammar school building is set to be demolished as part of a major redevelopment programme.
Dover Grammar School for Boys has sat on a prominent slope overlooking the docks and castle since the early 1930s.
Around 860 pupils, aged 11 to 18, will be moved to an upgraded and "modern" six-storey new build on Astor Road's playing field over the next decade.
A decision - to build the new school and tear down the old building to put a car park in its place - was made by a majority of Kent County Council's planning committee at Maidstone County Hall yesterday.
The school's head teacher, Phil Horstrup, said he was "pleased" with the move and told the committee: "The reality is the building is sadly not fit for purpose in providing modern education."
Former student Martyn Webster, whose family has been to Dover Grammar over three generations, said he was upset with the verdict.
The 70-year-old said: "If you have to bow to the inevitable eventuality it should be with a view to speaking with the local people."
Mr Webster, who studied at the school during the 1960s, told councillors: "The fact this hearing is taking place in Maidstone rather than Dover adds to a sense of detachment."
Historic England continue to deliberate about whether the old school building is of insufficient heritage quality to be listed or whether a full assessment is required.
KCC's decision could change if the building is declared listed, which refers to a building's special architectural or historic interest.
The verdict comes four years after the government's Minister of State for Schools announced the next phase of the £2 billion priority school building programme.
As a result, major rebuilding and refurbishment projects will take place in 277 of UK schools in the worst condition, which included Dover Grammar School for Boys.
Health and safety concerns, due to the presence of asbestos, and potential need for more space to cater future expansion were among the driving factors behind the verdict the existing school building was "unsuitable" for refurbishment.
"It's a splendid looking building but the overriding decision should be if it's capable of being put into a fit state" - Cllr Matthew Balfour
Cllr David Brazier (Con) said: "Young people need and deserve decent and up-to-date facilities for their education.
"The sentiment we feel for the existing building should not be not be allowed to prevent that from happening."
Cllr Peter Harman (Ind), who opposed the decision, said the building should not be demolished out of "convenience" for the council.
Dover town councillor, Tui Sancha, described the decision as both "shocking" and "saddening" and said school chiefs had left the "iconic" building in "deliberate neglect".
Her comments came just minutes before eight members of the 12-person committee voted in favour of Dover Grammar School's scheme during the hour-long public session.
Cllr Matthew Balfour (Con) added: "It's a splendid looking building but the overriding decision should be if it's capable of being put into a fit state."
A new teaching block will be built on the upper school playing field and this will be attached to the sports hall, which will provide four sports courts and a new 2 court MUGA as well.
There is current provision for on-site parking for 63 cars and two minibus spaces , which will be extended to include four extra spaces and two electric charging points.
More by this authorCiaran Duggan, local democracy reporter