Maidstone schools' planning application submitted - full details
Thursday 10th January 2019
A PLANNING application for two new schools near junction seven of the M20 has been put in to the borough council for consideration.
The scheme has been submitted by builders Bowmer and Kirkland Ltd for the Department for Education after a consutation exercise at the end of 2018. The application may not go before the council's planning committee for several months.
The schools would be built adjacent to a facility where mentally ill criminals are being housed and treated on the Kent Medical Campus (KMC) site.
Despite serious and vocal public concerns that the applicants intend to place the entrance on the often gridlocked Bearsted Road, that part of the scheme remains unchanged.
Residents had hoped an access road would come off the Kent Medical Campus site for child safety reasons.
Critics say that Bearsted Road is "too dangerous" for children to walk along at peak times when traffic is heaviest.
But some minor changes have been made such as a controlled pedestrian crossing, new footpaths and the removal of on-street parking outside Gidds Pond Cottages.
The primary and special needs schools will be operated by the Leigh Academies' Trust.
Bearsted borough councillor Val Springett said: “The ‘tweaks’ made will certainly NOT change my mind. Access via a single access point with insufficient parking will cause chaos on the Bearsted Road."
Canon John Corbyn, the vicar of Bearsted, said: “The more I see of this, the worse it gets. The idea of traffic turning across traffic into Bearsted Road is just a total non-starter.
“This is totally unacceptable in terms of the traffic management plan and access."
Rebecca Darling, co-founder of the Leatherhead-based PR company Stonyrock which is representing the contractors, accused Downs Mail’s recent coverage of “scaremongering”.
She confirmed that no efforts had been made since the consultation in December to secure land to create the access on the KMC site.
But she claimed a detailed explanation as to why it is not possible will be published "next week some time".
One local resident of 30 years said: "Where there is a will there's a way. The schools are great but it seems the DfE cannot or will not spend the money to get the kids there safely."
Much will depend on the views of Kent County Council's highways officers.
Ed Sutton of the developers Bowmer and Kirkland said: "The responses we received from the community demonstrated that the majority of people support new schools for the area."
He added additional highways measures were added to the application before it was submitted.
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