Published: 06:00, 14 March 2020
Expansion plans for Saint George’s Church of England School in Gravesend have been given the go ahead despite objections from local residents about parking problems.
The secondary school will soon house a multi-use teaching block to cope with the growing demand for education places in Gravesham.
Saint George’s head of school, Matthew Lillie, said: “Having missed out on the rebuild some years ago, I am pleased that we will be able to massively improve our facilities to provide an excellent education for the pupils here.”
KCC’s planning committee unanimously approved the plan last week but some members expressed fears over residential parking in the “very narrow” Meadow Road, which neighbours the school.
Gravesham council leader John Burden (Lab), a committee member, who also represents the division, described the parking situation as a “nightmare”.
But Cllr Burden said he recognised there were no planning grounds for refusal, adding: “We need to make sure the travel plan and the construction plan is robust because you can see there will be problems.”
Retired Meadow Road residents Hillary Jones said: “There is nowhere for residents to park.
“With the new expansion of the school and the rise in pupils I just don’t know how he roads going to cope. When we moved here 40 years ago there were obviously very few cars here but nowadays most homes have two or more cars, this leads to more traffic, which makes parking problems. So with this new expansion, I really don’t understand how teachers, parents and sixth formers are going to be able to park for the school. Sixth form pupils can’t park their cars in the school so they have to park on the road too, it’s just chaos!
“We understand the need for more school places, but we really feel that our current parking predicament hasn’t been taken into consideration.”
No objections were raised by KCC’s highways team, who said school bosses had provided evidence of previous construction work carried out at the site involving Meadow Road.
KCC’s Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Cllr Ian Chittenden, said he was concerned about there not being enough room for lorries to get past during construction.
The width of Meadow Road has been measured at 7.3m wide, with cars currently parking, at 2.25m wide, each side. But, officers said the lorries were measured at 2.5m, leaving around 300 millimetres of free space.
Officers also told councillors about four pedestrian access points to the school, with St George’s bosses encouraging children to walk to the site.
Mr Lillie added: “We will do our best to work with the residents. We have had some building work done before, through Meadow Road, which I believe was successful.”
Just over £6m will be invested towards the Northfleet academy’s new build from a mixture of funding from the government and KCC, the local education authority.
Two existing buildings on the school site, a science and multi-use teaching block, will be demolished and replaced by the new block from September 2021 onwards.
The new build will include teaching spaces for maths, English, music and media, a dance and drama studio, as well as a sixth form area.
It will help accommodate 30 extra pupils to each year group over the next five years, meaning the eventual capacity will rise from 900 to 1,050 pupils in Years 7 to 11.
This comes after KCC’s plan for education provision from 2020 to 2024 stated that demand for school places within Gravesham continues to exceed capacity, primarily due to high birth rates.
The development will result in the removal of 21 individual trees, but these will be replaced with 34 new ones, while solar panels will be placed onto the building.