Extended primary school for Hawkenbury development site?
Hawkenbury residents look set to benefit from an extended school after the council agreed to begin negotiations with developers to start building on the site of Holly Farm.
Members of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s cabinet agreed in principle at a meeting last week to sell the land and allow a two-form primary catering for up to 180 children to be built alongside a new housing development. The school would replace the current 140-pupil St Peter’s Primary in Windmill Street.
TWBC, which has negotiated a price for the site, said a new housing project could include up to 250 dwellings, but would only be given the go-ahead if a new school is included.
It is a victory for councillors Tracy Moore, Peter Bulman and Catherine Rankin, who had campaigned to ensure Kent County Council and the developer committed to the inclusion of a school.
“Speaking to the developers, they assured us they were keen to build a new school and it is clear they will benefit from doing so as it will increase the desirability of their houses. “I am reassured by the letter of intent sent to us by KCC, whose authority for educational establishments is required, stating they were behind the plan.”
Cllr Moore is now anxious to ensure the new school will be ready by the time the first residents move in, but this could be some way off; as the council is yet to exchange contracts on the land. She said: ‘We will be campaigning hard to make sure the school starts to be built at phase one of the development and not at a later date.” The council has stated any new developments on the 18-acre site will still be subject to standard planning procedures. Selling the site will also mean ‘terminating’ of all existing uses, which could include the vacating of 22 allotments. Plot-holders will be approached with ‘relocation’ an option
TWBC leader David Jukes said: “I am happy with the letter we received from Kent County Council giving a clear commitment to additional primary school provision through the relocation and expansion of St Peter’s to Hawkenbury.”
After the meeting, mother of three Cllr Moore said: “There are two things I care about, my family and my community. This is a great result and a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
This article first appeared in the Times of Tunbridge Wells on 23 September 2015.