The multi-million pound development of a new school in Kent has edged a step closer.
The second phase of Barton Court Academy Trust’s £20 million plans to build a new education institution on the site of the former Chaucer School in Canterbury by 2022 has been approved by Kent County Council.
In an urgent decision, KCC’s cabinet member for finance, Cllr Peter Oakford (Con), awarded a contract to building firm, Kier Construction, despite some questions raised by councillors about the contractor’s performance and cost.
However, fears the coronavirus outbreak could lead to the scheme being further pushed back have been quashed by KCC chiefs.
A KCC spokesman said: “The school is still on track to open for September 2021, but may need to open in temporary accommodation for a short period.”
In January 2019, the Spring Lane school build was set back by 12 months due to protracted negotiations delaying its development.
Cllr Ida Linfield (Lib Dem), who represents the area at county level, said: “The school is desperately needed. I would welcome it coming as soon as possible.”
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However, Cllr Linfield said school construction work should not take place on Saturday mornings, suggesting extended weekdays in the summer to ensure that many elderly residents get some “respite” from the development.
Ward district councillor Pat Edwards (Lab) has raised concerns about the likely traffic “disruption” to Barton residents when the school is completed, with many living in the dozens of neighbouring homes near Spring Lane.
Although supporting the building design, she said: “The school will cause gridlock and disruption because all the roads in the area are smaller or residential.
“The transport plan for how this site will be managed needs to be detailed and closely consulted with local councillors and residents.”
The Chaucer Technology School has stood empty since it shut in 2015, but builders have begun tearing down the ivy-clad premises ahead of the secondary school and sixth form build, paid by the Department for Education.
Barton Manor School will cater for 1,050 pupils, aged 11 to 18, after plans were approved by KCC’s planning committee in November.
It will feature facilities for lessons, such as design and catering, and a 1,200sqm sports block.
It is hoped the Spring Lane school will help cope with the added demand for secondary places in Canterbury.
KCC predict that an extra 135 Year 7 places will be needed in the city by 2021, rising to 203 by 2023, if no action is taken.
Source: Kent Online