Published: 20:35, 10 November 2021
| Updated: 09:17, 11 November 2021
Plans for a £1 million expansion of a grammar school have been given the go ahead.
Six new classrooms will be built on top of a sports pavilion at Maidstone Grammar School for Boys, after proposals were agreed by Kent County Council's (KCC) planning committee today.
The extension will add to the amount of teaching space available for 1,442 pupils at the site in Barton Road, Maidstone, where some rooms are said to be "bulging at the seams".
Head teacher Mark Tomkins said he was "absolutely delighted" the authority had approved the scheme.
He said: "This will give the school much-needed additional classroom accommodation."
Maidstone Grammar School for Boys, which dates back to the 1500s, moved to its current site in 1930. Pupil demand has risen over the last three decades.
The number of 11 to 18-year-olds at the school has doubled from 750 in 1993 to 1,442 in September this year. This is expected to continue to rise over the next two years.
KCC and Maidstone Grammar, the joint applicants, described the need for change as "pressing". They said it would only be eased by having additional, large classroom capacity to support the curriculum needs of the school.
Malling county councillor Harry Rayner (Con), whose division is home to some Maidstone Grammar School pupils, said:"The scheme is very well designed to avoid matters of overlooking and this has my full support."
It is the school's intention to introduce a language department on the first floor of the pavilion.
No objections were made by KCC highways, Maidstone Borough Council or borough councillors.
However, some neighbours expressed fears over the increasing height of the building and potential lack of privacy.
'It was pleasing to hear that members of the planning committee applauded the design of the building including the provision of solar panels.'
In response, KCC officers say extra trees will be planted to screen the extension from the nearest homes.
Cllr Andy Booth (Con), who is KCC's planning committee vice-chair, told the panel: "If you can't go out with a development, go up."
Meanwhile, the new roof will include solar panels, helping to meet climate change targets for net zero carbon across the UK, including Kent, by 2050.
Cllr Jackie Meade (Lab) of Folkestone East, said: "I congratulate the fact we have have solar panels in the design."
Concluding, Mr Tomkins added: "It was pleasing to hear that members of the planning committee applauded the design of the building including the provision of solar panels.
"This is in keeping with the school’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint in line with government targets."
The next stage will see the tendering of the building contract, with a view to start the construction early in the new year.