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Residents fear 'traffic nightmare' if Saint George's Church of England School expands

By Ciaran Duggan, local democracy reporter

The second phase of a school’s expansion project has been described as “crazy” by neighbouring residents.

Kent County Council (KCC) is set to allocate £2.5m for the final phase of the expansion project at Gravesend’s Saint George’s Church of England School.

If approved on Tuesday next week, the funding will form part of a £9.6m KCC package used to finance the creation of an all-through school at the Meadow Road site, which caters to more than 1,000 students from primary age to secondary.

Saint George\'s Church of England School, in Meadow Road, near Gravesend (13452942)
Saint George\'s Church of England School, in Meadow Road, near Gravesend (13452942)

Residents says hundreds of drivers, namely parents, park their cars outside the school’s main entrance on Meadow Road each day.

Grandmother Janet Redman, who lives with her husband Nicholas, 76, described the parking situation on the residential street as “chaotic” due to the school traffic.

The 72-year-old said: “I just dread it when I go out. It’s diabolical.”

Pensioner Mrs Redman says the only way to guarantee herself a parking space is to pay an extra £40 a month to rent a garage.

Saint George\'s Church of England School, in Meadow Road, near Gravesend (13452940)
Saint George\'s Church of England School, in Meadow Road, near Gravesend (13452940)

This is located within the street through a nearby alleyway.

She said she understood the need for provision of extra school places in Gravesham but felt the creation of a new school would be of more benefit.

She said: “I know we have to expand school place provision but why here when there has been so much expansion at the school before?”

Another Meadow Road couple, Graham Funnell, 57, and his wife, Debbie, 55, who herself has written a letter of objection to the council about the school expansion, have described the parking situation as a “nightmare”.

"It took my wife 30 minutes trying to park her car once during the school pick up rush." - Graham Funnell

Mr Funnell said: “I have deep concerns about the traffic that comes down here.

“It’s a nightmare getting in and out.

“It took my wife 30 minutes trying to park her car once during the school pick up rush.

“Now they are trying to expand the secondary school further. The situation is just crazy.”

KCC councillor Lauren Sullivan
KCC councillor Lauren Sullivan

Letters were sent to residents earlier this month informing them about the consultation concerning the final phase of the school’s extension.

Pensioner Hilary Jones, who has lived on Meadow Road for over 40 years, said: “The residents on this street are not happy because of the traffic problems down on the road, which are considerable.

“It’s quite irresponsible to put a new building here.”

KCC councillor Lauren Sullivan, who represents Northfleet and Gravesend West, said she “welcomes” the addition of new school places in Gravesham but fears the new school will create a greater “traffic burden”.

Saint George\'s Church of England School, in Meadow Road, near Gravesend (13452944)
Saint George\'s Church of England School, in Meadow Road, near Gravesend (13452944)

The Labour councillor said: “It’s a tricky situation.

“It’s difficult for the local residents but the borough also needs school places. Where else can you put them? It’s bit of a juggling act.”

KCC launched the Meadow Road school expansion project two years ago as part of the education authority’s plans to cope with the growing demand for primary school places in Northfleet and Gravesend West.

The development has faced several administrative delays over the past 24 months due to “significant planning issues”, with the primary school orginally planned to open in September 2018, rather than this year.

The first phase of the project has seen the creation of a new primary school with 420 new places for pupils aged four to 11, which is due to open in September.

The latest phase comes two years after KCC allocated £7.1m to the 439-year-old secondary school in February 2017 for the first stage of the project.

The £2.5m boost is expected to be approved by councillors on July 23.

Saint George’s Church of England School was unavailable for comment.

Read more: All the latest news from Gravesend

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