Published: 05:00, 13 May 2022
A decision on plans to build a housing estate on school grounds in an attempt to ensure its survival will be decided next week.
But next Thursday, May 19its future could be thrown into doubt as Tonbridge and Malling councillors are set to decide on plans to build 76 houses on school land along with new "eco-classrooms" and a sports hall.
If approved the houses would be a range of two, three and four bedroom properties and 15 would be classed as affordable housing.
The plans come as the school aims to double its pupil intake from 120 pupils a year to 240, after finding itself in a "precarious financial position" in recent years.
To accommodate this new intake the “eco-block” would house pupils aged 4-11, and will include classrooms, science labs, staff rooms and a dedicated kitchen for cooking lessons.
The building will be made mostly from timber and would include green “living panels” to fit in with its surroundings and is where it gets its eco-friendly name.
Even the listed country house would get a refurbishment, as the applicant Woolf Bond Planning believe the house “remains substantially intact” and essential repairs are needed.
Further upgrades would also be made to the school swimming pool and changing rooms.
It is estimated these costs would amount to around £750,000 to £1million.
In a planning statement applicant Woolf Bond Planning said: “Fosse Bank School has been operating in an increasingly precarious financial position over recent years.
“In this context, it has had to look closely at its current financial position and its future Business Plan to ensure its survival and that of the listed building which sits at the heart of the school.
“In addition, the school requires an immediate cash injection of around £410,000 to be able to continue to operate in its current form.
“In order to secure the future of the school, and the designated heritage asset, the evidence that supports this planning application demonstrates that the school, and therefore the listed building, has a much greater chance of survival by increasing the pupil roll to 240.
“To deliver these wide-ranging heritage and educational objectives, a scheme of 76 residential units is proposed on an area of land identified as surplus to the operational requirements of the school.
“The delivery of this residential scheme will ensure that a number of mutually beneficial objectives can be delivered in heritage, educational and housing terms; it will also help to address the severe five-year housing land supply shortfall in the Tonbridge and Malling borough.”
The plans have received more than 500 letters of objection and support - with 374 opposing the proposals, while 149 are in favour.
Some residents believe the project would benefit education in the area, help develop the school, increase employment and offer more housing.
Objectors think plans will contribute to the "over-development" of the village and will negatively impact neighbours and roads.
It has been recommended the plans are refused.
View the plans, submitted last year, herewww.tinyurl.com/planningkm, with reference 21/02831/FL.
Alternatively, you can read the agenda for next week's planning committee here. https://democracy.tmbc.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=147&MId=4897