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School set for huge redevelopment

A MAJOR redevelopment of Cranbrook School has moved another step closer. County councillors have given the go-ahead to plans by the school to build a new sixth-form centre along with a performing arts centre, chiefly for music and drama students.

Kent County Council’s planning committee has approved separate applications for the two developments, despite formal opposition from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

The programme of building improvements is expected to cost in the region of £1.5million and will be funded partly by a Government grant of £670,000 and some £400,000 from school reserves and donations.

County planning chiefs said developers had overcome concerns over the design of the buildings and their impact in the Cranbrook conservation area.

This had been achieved by taking the proposed sixth form centre, which will have a pitched roof, some six metres back and reducing the height of the single-storey building. The application also includes car parking for 50 vehicles – 25 fewer than originally planned.

However, Tunbridge Wells council had opposed the development on the grounds it was too big and would mean a loss of open space.

The new music and drama centre will also be a single-storey building and will be connected to the existing Spalton building.

Tunbridge Wells county councillor Roy Bullock, who was unable to attend the meeting, said he had misgivings about the application. He commented: “I have my reservations about the development but I do understand the curriculum needs of the school. It was a finely balanced decision and had I been able to, I would have voted against it."

Richard Hillier, the chairman of Cranbrook School’s development and facility committee, said he was pleased by the outcome and said architects had worked hard to meet concerns over the impact the buildings might have.

Building work is expected to start next Spring.

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