Concern after primary school plans for new housing development are shelved

Concern after primary school plans for new housing development are shelved
Tonbridge site of the proposed primary school which will not now be built

The school had been proposed on a site north of Upper Haysden Lane, where developers Hallam are constructing a new housing estate.

The development has already caused controversy as it is next to Haysden Country Park, one of Tonbridge’s most cherished beauty spots.

The area already has a shortage of primary places, with parents wanting to send children to the closest school, Sussex Road Community School, having to sit on a 40-child long waiting list.

The proposed development, which is currently under public consultation until September 9, will further add to the pressures facing local primary school places, with parents forced to travel across Tonbridge to other schools

While the housing development was originally planned to have a two form entry primary school, Kent County Council have now decided the school will not be built.

In a consultee letter to Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council’s [TMBC] planning committee, they admit that ‘existing schools within the area do not have the scope to accommodate expansion and therefore it is proposed that a new school be established to accommodate the growth’.

But they add: “Viewed in isolation and assessed against the shorter term forecasts, the construction of 125 houses will not necessitate additional primary places being commissioned.”

The say that because TMBC’s local plan is currently only in draft form, any housing application has to be viewed ‘in a piecemeal manner’.

TMBC’s draft local plan does include a requirement the County Council in to construct a school, but the current housing estate plans do ‘not make provision for the school’.

The draft Local Plan demonstrates Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council’s development strategy until 2031.

There are more than 400 new homes planned for the Haysden area, but KCC have said that because the school is not outlined in the current planning application, if and when it is built it may now end up in the wrong location.

They state: “Assuming the rest of the site comes forward in a period where proposals can be viewed against the site’s policy this will mean the school site would be located in a later part of the allocation, potentially not the best part of the site for a school to be situated on.”

The council would not comment on the planning application but Cllr April Clark, who represents Judd Ward and is leader of the local Greens, said the decision could result in 125 families having no school provision for their children.

She told the Times: “It seems that because this is being viewed as a single development, they are not going to build a school yet.

“But here is a real need for a new primary school in the area. There is no room in Sussex Road two minutes away, so these families will be forced to drive across Tonbridge to a school that is miles away. This will only add to congestion.”

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