Village primary school finally gets the go-ahead 12 months behind schedule
10th July 2019
THE CONTRACT to build a new primary school next to a housing development in a Tunbridge Wells village that has been beset with delays has finally been given the go ahead.
Planning permission for the new St Peter’s Church of England Primary School in Hawkenbury was granted in February, but progress came to a halt after a ‘rogue’ gas reading prevented the changeover of land to Kent County Council [KCC].
As reported in the Times in April, the gas reading could have led to the £7.1million project to be abandoned altogether.
The gas reading was only the latest in a long line of delays that have seen the project, which was originally meant to be open by September this year, to be put back with a completion date now set for just before the start to the 2020 school year.
The one-form entry school with space for 30 pupils, is relocating from Windmill Street to a site nearby to the new 250-home development on Hawkenbury Road.
Berkeley Homes, who are building the new houses, scheduled to transfer ownership of the land for the school to the county council in July last year.
A new survey has found no evidence of any underground gas, meaning KCC is free to now take possession of the land and proceed with the building of the school.
Roger Gough, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education, said: “Planning permission for the new school building was issued in February, however, construction works could not commence until the results of additional land surveys had been received.
“The necessary surveys have now been completed and reviewed, they have not identified any impediment to the school’s construction.
“The ownership of the land will shortly transfer from Berkeley Homes to the County Council and we will be entering into the build contract with Baxall Construction.
“These two key milestones are expected to be achieved this week to maintain the delivery programme for completion of the school building
The news will come as a relief to the families moving into the new housing development.
Park ward councillor, Nicholas Pope, who represents Hawkenbury residents, said: “The news that the school has the go-ahead is long awaited good news. My understanding is that the school is still planned to be completed in time to open at the end of next summer with a one-form entry, although I am not certain this is still possible with the delays that have taken place.
“With the new houses being completed in the Hollyfields development in Hawkenbury, the second phase to expand the school to accommodate two forms should, in my opinion, be brought forward.”