Published: 17:06, 21 July 2021
| Updated: 17:11, 21 July 2021
Building work for a new primary school as part of a £419 million riverside development has started.
The school is due to open in September 2022 and the two-form entry site will have 420 pupils when it is fully open from nursery to Year 6 after plans were approved in May 2020.
The two-storey building will sit on a raised deck and provide outdoor teaching space for nursery and reception classes.
It will also have extensive facilities in the school grounds including an outdoor events stage, grass sports area and multi-use games area.
Parts of the old Rochester city wall will also be at the centre of the outdoor space which features plant beds and a habitat zone to teach pupils about wildlife.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held to mark the start of construction with help from developer Countryside's mascot, Bill Ding.
Attended by pupils from schools in the Pilgrim Multi Academy Trust, which will run the new Rochester Riverside school, the ceremony also hosted Medway Council leader Alan Jarrett and representatives from developers Countryside, Hyde and Mid Group.
The school will be located amid a new open space within the development and surrounded by three parks – Acorn Park, Acorn Play Area and Bridge Park.
The new area will open up on to the River Medway and a new river walkway is being constructed.
Andrew Usher, managing director for Countryside's Partnerships South London division, said: "With Phase 1 and 2 of Rochester Riverside almost fully complete and Phase 3 underway, we are excited to build on this momentum with the start of construction of the new Rochester Riverside Primary School.
"This is a landmark moment for the northern area of Rochester Riverside."
Guy Slocombe, chief investment officer at Hyde, said: "It is great to see the new primary school, which holds such an important role in the new community we are creating at Rochester Riverside, take this key step forward.
"This is a fantastic milestone for our flagship regeneration scheme..."
"The new school will be an exemplary space for children to learn, and we’re looking forward to the opening next year."
Jan Taylor, chief executive at Pilgrim trust, said seeing the work start was exciting and made opening the new school "seem very real", adding: "All teams have been working hard to get this project off the ground and will continue to do so to ensure we can welcome our first pupils into the school next year."
Cllr Jarrett added: "This is a fantastic milestone for our flagship regeneration scheme, Rochester Riverside, and I am very pleased that work is now underway to build the new primary school.
"Not only will the new school provide much-needed places for local children, it will have excellent facilities to help children reach their full potential."
Rochester Riverside will have 1,400 new homes when complete and also have a hotel, 2.5km-long river walkway, commercial units, parking, green open spaces, play areas and landscaping.