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Bennett Memorial Diocesan School in Tunbridge Wells could expand and build new teaching block

ByCiaran Duggan, local democracy reporter

An "outstanding" secondary school could expand despite opposition from a national public body over the potential loss of a sports playing field.

Bosses at Bennett Memorial Diocesan School, rated "outstanding" by Ofsted in 2012, want to build a new two-storey teaching block, extend the kitchen area and enlarge the car park to fit another 36 spaces.

The application was submitted last year to cope with the school's increased student roll, which will see 300 more pupils at the institution by 2023.This means the school's total capacity will reach 1,978 by 2023.

The school wants to expand
The school wants to expand

This planned increase has come due to the "significant increase" in demand for secondary school places across Tunbridge Wells.

Sport England, an executive public body working under the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has objected to the proposal which it says would see the loss of a "well used" playing field on the Culverden Down site.

The objection reads: "The proposal includes a new building on an area of existing playing field to the south west of the site.

"The area of playing field that would be affected has hosted cricket, football and rounders pitches.

The school wants to expand so it has room for more pupils. Stock picture
The school wants to expand so it has room for more pupils. Stock picture

"The proposed location of the building would therefore result in a permanent loss of the field, reducing the ability to accommodate and rotate pitches on the site."

No objections have been made by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Kent County Council Highways and Transportation or the Environment Agency.

Kent County councillors will debate the application during the county authority's planning meeting at Maidstone County Hall on Wednesday.

Read more:All the latest news from Tunbridge Wells

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