St Peter’s School has long since been planned to relocate from Windmill Street to Hawkenbury Road to facilitate the 235-home Hawkenbury Farm development.
With neighbouring schools currently oversubscribed, villagers have pressed KCC for the new primary to have a two entry forms of 20 pupils each from when it opens.
Under current plans, exhibited last week, St Peter’s will open in October 2020 with a core [which refers to toilets, extra hall space and facilities] to accommodate a two form entry.
However, there would only be classroom space for 30 pupils, with the potential to add another classroom when the demand suffices.
Councillors for the relevant Park ward, Hawkenbury Village Association and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Leader David Jukes have all called on KCC for a rethink – with some homes in Hawkenbury Farm set to open before the school does.
Villagers have faced the additional frustration that the opening date has been pushed back a year from 2019. The issue came to light when Cllr Peter Bulman, the Norfolk-based member for Park ward asked for a progress update in a full council meeting last Wednesday [September 26].
Cllr Jukes responded: “I am disappointed KCC has not provided a two-form entry from the start as we were led to believe and there is a delay in getting it delivered. I organised a meeting with them and the only Park ward member available at the time, Cllr Tracy Moore.
“They assured me they would do whatever is necessary to provide the school we were hoping to get.
“I got a call from Roger Gough, who said we are going to get a two form entry school. The planning application is going in January 2019 – which I think is a bit late as it was due to go in this August. He said completion will be by half term in the first quarter of 2020. I think he’s being optimistic.
“After a lot of pressure from me and Paul Carter, they will build the core of the school and will add additional classrooms. The homes will be occupied before the school opens. It appears to me we can force KCC to deliver a two-form entry school from day one.”
Kent County Council has confirmed discussions are underway.
Dean Kenward, Leader of Hawkenbury Village Association, said he did not like the ‘grey cedar’ designs presented at the meeting by surveyors Gen 2 Smarter Properties and builder GallifordTry.
“It seems Kent County Council’s plan is the one adopted even though the numbers do not add up,” he told the Times. “Claremont, one of the nearest schools, is oversubscribed three or four times.”