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Michael Gove urged for meeting over government delay on decision over new Strood school which Medway Council say could see Maritime Academy plan scrapped


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Much-needed new school places could be lost due to the government delaying making a decision on a review of its planning permission, leading councillors have warned.

The new school in Frindsbury called Maritime Academy was approved by Medway Council in September.

A birds-eye view of what the school site and surrounding area could look like. Picture Bowmer and Kirkland
A birds-eye view of what the school site and surrounding area could look like. Picture Bowmer and Kirkland

But the plans have been put on hold while ministers at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) review the plans for the new 1,150-place school, homes and restoring a Grade-I to host a wedding venue near Strood.

A decision was due to be announced by the end of September.

Now senior councillors and officers have written to Michael Gove, the new Secretary of State to press for a resolution and have requested an urgent meeting to allow the school to open in September 2022.

This would initially be on a temporary site until the school is built ahead of the new school year in September 2023.

In a letter to Mr Gove, the council says if a decision is not made by November 19 about whether to allow the application or to call it in, then it risks the school not being ready for the new school year and the "entire project possibly cancelled".

Senior councillors and officials have pressed Michael Gove for an urgent meeting relating to the Maritime Academy plans. Picture: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Senior councillors and officials have pressed Michael Gove for an urgent meeting relating to the Maritime Academy plans. Picture: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

The plans for the new school, between Berwick Way and Parsonage Lane and Frindsbury Hill, were drawn up between the council, the Department for Education (DfE) and the Thinking Schools Academy Trust (TSAT), which will be running the school.

Cllr Josie Iles, cabinet member for children's services, and Cllr Martin Potter, cabinet member for education and schools, have written to Mr Gove alongside the council's assistant director for education and special education needs and the chief executive of TSAT.

The DfE set the council a deadline for later this month in order to continue building the school.

An artist's impression of Maritime Academy in Strood. Picture: The Heritage Design and Development Ltd
An artist's impression of Maritime Academy in Strood. Picture: The Heritage Design and Development Ltd

Cllr Iles said: "Although we understand why the decision has been delayed, the matter has now become critical.

"The Maritime Academy is needed to make sure that children can be educated in Medway. Providing the best education for our young people is a key part in our drive for Medway to become even more child-friendly."

The plans were approved earlier this year with an 11-to-four majority by the council's planning committee and 250 parents have already signed their children up to join next September.

The review by the DLUHC comes after 42 objections were taken into account by the government department including criticism from Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst.

News from our universities, local primary and secondary schools including Ofsted inspections and league tables can be found here.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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