Agenda item

Decision No. 12/02018 - Proposed expansion of Pembury Primary School, Tunbridge Wells


(Report Mr P Leeson, Corporate Director for Education, Learning and Skills)


(Mr K Shovelton, Director of Education Planning and Access and Mr S Webb, Area Education Officer, West Kent, were present for this item)


1.          The Cabinet Committee considered a report on the results of the Public Consultation on the proposal to expand Pembury Primary School.


2.          The Chairman invited Mr Tansley, Local Member, Tunbridge Wells East, to speak.  Mr Tansley advised that 474 were against the proposal and 7 were in favour.  The main concern was that Pembury Primary School was being looked upon to solve what was considered by local people “a Tunbridge Wells problem”, as the majority of the children that would fill the third class room would be from Tunbridge Wells.  Further concerns included; the character of the school being diluted, the admissions criteria relating to siblings would mean that there would be a risk that children from Pembury would not be admitted to the school further down the line, and a major concern was the risk of increased congestion on Lower Green road within Pembury and on the access roads to Pembury.  Mr Tansley advised that he had spoken with Mr Webb regarding alternatives.  He understood that the investment required to admit 3 forms was £1.8 million and this was a lower figure than one of the other proposals on the expansion of Claremont School, Tunbridge wells.


3.          Mr Tansley asked that the Cabinet Committee considered further work being undertaken on a further expansion of St Peter’s School, Tunbridge Wells that was due to be expanded.  St Peter’s School was due to move to a green field site and expanded from a one form entry to a two form entry.  Mr Tansley considered that as the majority of the children would be coming from Tunbridge Wells to the proposed expansion of Pembury School this would be a better solution, ensuring that; the pupils attended a school from the area where they lived; there was no additional congestion in Pembury road and the £1.8 million that was proposed for the expansion at Pembury Primary School could be used for a tailor made solution for a 3 form entry school on a green field site.  Mr Tansley said that he recognised that there were pressures to find places for September 2013 and saw that a compromise may be for Pembury Primary School to have a temporary additional form, provided that this did not breach any statutory obligations to move to a permanent expansion to accommodate the pressing need for places and the additional time was used to look at the proposal to expand a school that was closer to where the children lived.  Mr Tansley concluded by advising that the Pembury village as a whole was opposed to the expansion of Pembury Primary School.  


4.          Mr Shovelton advised that it would be possible to look into Mr Tansley’s proposal and for Pembury Primary School to be temporarily expanded whilst the proposal was being investigated.   He explained that the expansion of St Peter’s School was in the Commissioning Plan but did not meet the immediate demands partly because the Local Plan for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council did not yet include the development of that site, it was expected to be included shortly and nothing could proceed until such time.     Mr Shovelton advised that it would be 2016 before St Peter’s would be open on the new site would open and provide the extra capacity that was needed. 


5.          In reply to a question, Mr Shovelton explained that having the option to expand Pembury Primary School for two years would be preferable to allow time for the options to be considered and ensure that the right option was chosen and could be delivered then put through planning and the buildings to be created. To do this in 12 months would be difficult.


6.          Mr Webb referred to page 213 paragraph 4.1 of the report and advised that there was an error and it should read “The majority of the respondents were not in favour of the proposal”.


7.          Following discussions, Mr Christie proposed, Mr Smith seconded that Pembury Primary School, Tunbridge Wells be temporarily expanded for one year to give officers time to explore alternative options for additional primary capacity within the Tunbridge Wells area.


Vote: Unanimous


8.          RESOLVED that:


a)    the responses to comments and questions by Members be noted; and


b)    the Education Cabinet Committee recommends to the Cabinet Member for Education, Learning and Skills that the Pembury Primary School  to be temporarily expanded for one year to give officers time to explore alternative options for additional primary capacity within the Tunbridge Wells area.



Supporting documents: