The facts about the new Hawkenbury Primary school.
These are the facts about the new primary school at Hawkenbury as of 03 April 2019. This is an ongoing concern for the HVA and local residents and we will update everyone as and when we get information from the relevant borough and county officers and councillors.
- An agreement was reached, in 2015, between Berkeley Homes and TWBC to build new homes on the Holly Farm site. There was a further undertaking between the Leaders of the Borough and County councils that a new 2 form entry primary school would be built as part of the development.
- On 15 February 2017, the TWBC Planning Committee approved outline plans for the Holly Farm site. This outline planning permission included a 2 form entry primary school. Berkeley Homes agreed to remediate the site and do enablement works, such as roads and sewers. In addition, Berkeley Homes contributed £1.5 million towards the build costs of the school under a Section 106 agreement.
- KCC launched a consultation on the new school on 20 February 2018. The consultation outlined a 2 form entry core with classrooms for 1 form entry. 30 pupils per grade year rather than 60 as originally planned.
- On 2 July 2018, our chair, Dean Kenward, met with Cllr Rankin (KCC) and Cllr Moore (TWBC) to express concerns about the delays to the school and the proposed size. The expected build completion date of the school was end September 2019.
- Berkeley Homes were scheduled to transfer the title and ownership of the land for the proposed new school on 31 July 2018. This legal process has still not taken place and Berkeley Homes continue to own the site.
- On 3 August 2018, we received a statement from KCC that the school opening would be delayed until February 2020. The additional 10 reception places would be created at St Peters Primary School. KCC confirmed that the current St Peters site would be reconfigured to create a safe space for the new reception year students.
- KCC confirmed on 3 August 2018, that a planning application would be lodged in August or September 2018.
- On 26 September 2018, a drop in session was held at St Peter’s School detailing the design of the new school. KCC and Gen2 (a project management consultancy group) ran the drop in. GilliFordTry (potential building contractor) were also involved.
- A full county planning application was submitted on 26 October 2018 for the new school.
- The plans were discussed and approved at the KCC planning committee on 16 January 2019.
- On 29 January 2019, Cllr David Jukes, Leader of TWBC, informed the Tunbridge Wells Town Forum that “School will be 2FE when finished. KCC are very behind with their application. It’s expected the houses should be finished before school is built”
- The HVA committee discuss the school situation at the committee meeting on 21 March 2019 and raise concerns about the delay.
- At a residents meeting with Berkeley Homes on 2 April 2019, Berkeley Homes state that KCC have still not taken legal ownership of the school site. The site was ready for handover on 31 July 2018.
- Berkeley Homes further state that no contractors have been appointed to build the school. It has not even reached a point where letters of intent have been issued by KCC to a contractor.
- Berkeley Homes are unable to explain the reluctance from KCC to take ownership of the site and Berkeley Homes is concerned that KCC may not build the school.
Those are the timeline facts. These are some additional facts:
- Berkeley Homes have completed enablement works on the site, on time.
- Berkeley Homes have made a £1.5 million financial contribution towards building the new school, through a Section 106 agreement.
- Mr Jared Nehra, Area Education Officer at KCC for West Kent, ran the consultation and initial design of the school. He has since left the employ of the Kent County Council.
- TWBC sold the land for the new school at a discount of more that £1 million to assist KCC in building the school.
- If KCC fail to take ownership of the land, then the ownership remains with Berkeley Homes. Berkeley Homes would be within their rights to apply for further planning permission to build additional houses on the school site.
- The school will take between 9 and 12 months to build, once they break ground. It may take a further 3 months to appoint a contractor and get them on site.
- Berkeley Homes are scheduled to complete house building by December 2021.
We will continue to update you as we learn more.