Published: 06:00, 30 June 2020
A lack of dedicated grammar school provision will force extensions to be "shoe-horned" on smaller sites closer to homes, a resident has claimed.
Kent County Council is unable to build new schools and must either create satellite sites of existing ones or extend on existing land to meet demand in Gravesham.
By 2025, KCC anticipates there will be a deficit of 269 places in the borough assuming no action is taken.
A 210-place expansion of Mayfield Grammar School in Pelham Road – recently approved at a KCC planning meeting – has been met with concern it will create additional strain on local roads, encroach on housing and reduce playing field space.
Neighbour Alastair Thrush, who lives in Lennox Road East and backs on to the school property, said a new approach was needed to avoid extensions being crammed on to sites too small to meet the growing need for places.
He said: "It should have been dealt with a decade ago.
"It was clear from the meeting that people felt they almost had no option to pass this because we're running out of time.
"As a local resident we are going to have to live with the consequences with parking and traffic.
"We must have a better solution. This is a problem that's not going to go away."
Mr Thrush, who attended a grammar school and whose wife and parents were teachers, says further development at Ebbsfleet would continue to have a knock-on effect on demand for places which he felt had not been adequately catered for.
The father-of-three suggested building a new grammar school site or annexing two schools on larger sites.
But KCC cannot build new grammar schools under law and has no further plans to build a satellite grammar in Gravesham is on the table.
The authority's commissioning plan for education in the county outlines the Mayfield expansion as the only planned selective school project currently in the pipeline.
"They're allowing all this urban expansion in the area and not thinking of the provision of grammar school places," Mr Thrush said.
"It's taking away loads of playing fields and we need a bigger look at putting a big grammar in the area with proper sporting facilities. There must be some brownfield site somewhere.
"There's going to be the need and the two schools clearly are just not going to be able to cope with it."
A unique problem affecting families in Gravesham is pupils living in Essex falling under the Kent catchment area due to the proximity of towns like Grays and Tilbury to the borough across the Thames.
A KCC spokesman said nobody was available to comment further on creating further provision, whether the plan would provide enough places or the question of Essex residents attending the borough's schools.
The population of secondary age children is expected to rise by 1,396 in 2027/28 compared to 10 years earlier.
Almost 2,400 houses are expected to be completed in Gravesham between 2021 to 2026, according to KCC data.
A deficit of 703 non-selective places are expected in the borough for secondary school children by 2025.
Latest capacity figures show in 2018/19, grammar schools could take up to 1,700 pupils, with 354 of those in Year 7.
The two selective schools Gravesend Grammar School and Mayfield Grammar School are set to see "steady" rise in demand.
For grammar schools, the council predicts it will need to add the equivalent of an extra two classes totalling 63 children in Year 7 in five years time with that number peaking at 72 pupils by the start of 2023/24.
Across Years 7-11 in selective schools, there is expected to be 269 too few places in Gravesham when children return in September 2025.
But all these figures assume no action is taken by the council to fill the spaces.
KCC's plan acknowledges "selective secondary school rolls are forecast to increase".
The council says 30 temporary places are being provided this September with two further classes added in 2021 through expansion at Mayfield.
But no more provision has been planned for the remainder of the plan.
Meanwhile, a deficit of 135 Sixth Form places is predicted by 2025 if no action is taken from a surplus of 159 at the start of the 2018/19 academic year in non-selective schools.
Grammar school Sixth Form provision fares a little better with schools already at full capacity in 2018/19 but predicting to reach a gap of 157 by the start of the 2025 academic year.