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Harvey Grammar School could expand for Otterpool Park development

By Sam Williams

A secondary school could be set to expand as a direct response to a new garden town proposal.

An outline planning application for the Otterpool Park development - which could see 10,000 new homes built on land near Folkestone Racecourse - was submitted to Folkestone and Hythe District Council in March.

It reveals that, due to the extra number of families that could move into the area, there are not enough spaces at the area’s existing secondary schools.

Harvey Grammar School
Harvey Grammar School

As a result, there are talks to expand the Harvey Grammar School, a selective boy’s school in Cheriton Road, Folkestone, to meet the demand.

The documents state: “It is not expected that existing schools and expansion plans can provide for the increased demand for secondary school places as a result of the Otterpool Park development. Kent County Council has informed the applicant that they intend to meet some of the demand created by Otterpool Park through the expansion of the Harvey Grammar School. The applicant is supportive of this.”

There are currently 691 pupils enrolled at the school.

It is not just secondary education that is being looked at and there are also concerns that there are not enough spaces for primary aged children.

What the Otterpool Park 'local centres' could look like. Credit: Arcadis Design and Access statement
What the Otterpool Park 'local centres' could look like. Credit: Arcadis Design and Access statement

Documents for the development state: “There is unlikely to be capacity to cater for demand for primary school places from Otterpool Park in existing local schools except in a very limited way for the first homes to be occupied.”

If the new greenfield development is approved, 10,000 homes in total will be built between Westenhanger, Lympne and Sellindge, with offices, shops, medical facilities and schools.

The scheme, proposed by the council and Cozumel Estates, will be delivered in several phases over the next 30 years.

But the team behind the new development say a primary school will be made a priority in the first phase of development.

A spokesman for Otterpool Park said: “Our research into school provision has indicated that as there is little capacity at local primary schools we will need to provide a primary school early on in the first phase of the development.

How Otterpool Park Riverside Park could look. Credit: Arcadis Design and Access statement
How Otterpool Park Riverside Park could look. Credit: Arcadis Design and Access statement

"This also has the advantage of providing a community hub to bring together early residents. If our plans are approved, this school will grow in line with demand as the first homes are occupied.

“Working with Kent County Council, we will monitor and manage the demand for local school places and grow the number of schools across the lifespan of the project to a maximum of five primary schools.

“This phased approach will help ensure school buildings are provided in a timely way as the community grows. Our research has also indicated that there is capacity at secondary schools in the area to meet the needs of the first occupants at Otterpool Park.

“Our plans provide for a secondary school in phase two once demand is there. KCC has informed us that they intend to meet the demand for grammar school places created by Otterpool Park through expansion of existing grammar schools. We support this principle and this investment will be funded by contributions from the development.”

Read more: All the latest news from Folkestone

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