Kent County Council (KCC) has submitted its building proposal for the Sevenoaks grammar annexe for planning approval.
The proposal involves the demolition of the existing dilapidated school buildings on the Wildernesse site to provide two new secondary school buildings, one for the Sevenoaks grammar annexe and the other for the Trinity School. There will also be an associated upgrading of sports facilities, access, parking and landscaping works.
The proposal states that this “represents a unique opportunity to respond to the identified shortfall in secondary school provision within the area, through the delivery of two modern, high quality and well-designed school developments. The development will also significantly improve the overall appearance and character of the site without any adverse impact on local amenity.”
The planning authority has set 17th March 2014 target date for granting approval for the plans.
The key planning documents can be viewed by clicking on the links below:-
The architect’s drawings can be viewed by clicking on the links below:-
The full set of planning documents can be found by clicking on the link below:-
Key extracts from the planning documents are reproduced below.
The New Schools
KCC is working in partnership with the Department for Education to deliver two secondary schools on the former Wildernesse School site, Seal Hollow Road; a Sevenoaks Grammar Annexe and the Trinity School.
Despite its Green Belt location, the existing site comprises a range of unattractive buildings which possess little if no architectural, historic or sustainable value. This proposal will secure a positive regeneration of the site which will significantly improve the overall appearance and character of the site.
Timetable To Opening
The Grammar Annexe will be a 6FE secondary school for 1,260 pupils with approximately 120 full time equivalent staff and will be hosted by either Invicta Grammar or Weald of Kent Grammar (TBC). The schools are proposed to open in 2015.
The school hours for both the Grammar Annexe and the Trinity School are not yet confirmed although they are expected to be generally 07:30 to 17:00 Monday to Friday, which includes staggered start and finish times which will assist with controlling traffic flow to and from the site.
There will be an amended and extended parking layout that will provide new separated bus drop-off/collection area for up to 8 buses. There will be an extension of car parking, drop-off/collection areas & walkways providing up to 242 car parking spaces. This significantly increases previous parking provision.
There will be no loss of existing playing fields which will help limit the impact on the appearance and character of this part of the Green Belt and ensure the site’s outdoor facilities, as a shared resource, can adequately meet the demand generated by the development.
The proposal will ensure the site’s sports facilities (existing sports hall, tennis courts and artificial pitch) will continue to be accessible for formal community use through the existing operator.
The September 2013 Public Consultation Event
The outcome of the pre-application public consultation event that was held for local residents, school parents and staff and other local stakeholders shows that a large 64% majority of the 145 respondents ‘fully support’ the plans, and a further 31% ‘support the plans but have some queries’. That represents a total of 95% of all respondents supporting the principle of the co-located proposals.
The Wildernesse Site (aka “Knole East”)
Knole East campus is now largely redundant with the site being used for limited educational administrative purposes, physical education and other forms of training activities.
A new three storey Academy building was granted planning permission on the Knole West site on 12th November 2012. Once that approved extension is completed and occupied, the existing limited Knole East campus education provision can be relocated entirely to the Knole West site, leaving the former Wildernesse site available for redevelopment from summer 2014.
The Knole Academy
There may be the perception that the current proposals are unwarranted because the granting of the Knole West site application should have adequately addressed the identified shortfall in secondary school places within Sevenoaks. This is not true as is demonstrated by the extent of current outward migration of Sevenoaks secondary school students, which is continuing to grow each year.
The approval of the Knole Academy consolidation development hasn’t plugged the shortfall that still exists within the town that must be addressed.
A Fifty Year Old Problem
Sevenoaks has had a long history of students commuting long distances out of town to pursue Secondary education.
As documented in a committee paper from the mid 60’s entitled “Sevenoaks Education: An end to the Daily Exodus”, in 1966 there were 745 students that had to be bussed out of town for their education.
Today, a significant and unsustainable proportion of local children travel over 9 miles each way to and from school.
The 2012 roll court indicates that there are 2,474 Year 7 – 11 students resident in Sevenoaks South. Of these:
- 588 (23.8%) attend non-selective schools in Sevenoaks district (nearly all attend the Knole Academy)
- 1,138 (46.0%) attend selective schools in Tonbridge or Tunbridge Wells
- 712 (28.8%) attend non-selective schools in Tonbridge or Tunbridge Wells
- 36 (1.5%) attend non-selective schools outside of Sevenoaks, Tonbridge or Tunbridge Wells
The data shows that the number of students that will be seeking a Year 7 place will increase gradually over the short and medium term. Longer term forecasts indicate that the upwards trend will continue beyond 2018. In addition, significant housing development is underway in the Sevenoaks South area that will increase the numbers of Year 7 students in these forecasts.
Projections by Kent County Council show that the number of 11 year olds in Sevenoaks South will increase by 30% over the next 6 years. This population increase is already being felt in local primary schools.
A 10FE Shortfall
The shortfall of places for the Sevenoaks South ‘travel to school area’ is forecast to be approximately 10 forms of entry (10 x 30 Year 7 pupils) by September 2018.
The establishment of the Trinity Free School in Sevenoaks will provide 4 forms of entry of non-selective provision. It is not expected to impact on the demand for selective places from families resident in Sevenoaks South.
It is the local authority’s view that notwithstanding the additional provision from the Trinity Free School, there is a need to commission between 4 – 6 forms of entry of selective, co-educational provision in Sevenoaks South by 2017.