Drainage problems have led KCC to withdraw a planning application for a site in Higham Lane, and proposals are now in hand to relocate on Yeoman’s Field, just off Lower Haysden Lane, which is currently used as playing fields by The Judd School.
This will enable Judd to bring forward its own plans for new sports facilities closer to the main building.
Ridge View governors were told of the change of location at a meeting last week, and welcomed the news. The school, currently in Cage Green Road, has 100 places for pupils aged from two to 19 with profound, severe and complex learning difficulties, but KCC says there is a need for an extra 80 places.
It was rated as “good” in its most recent Ofsted report, with some outstanding features.
The planning application for the Higham Lane site was opposed by local residents, but the most concerning objection came from Southern Water, which said the capacity for drainage in the area was insufficient.
Detailed surveys and technical assessments took several months and they confirmed that extensive drainage works would be required to proceed with the application.
The estimate for these works was around £2 million and the work would also cause a significant time delay.
KCC has withdrawn the planning application for Higham Lane. Discussions with The Judd School, which has recently secured new fields closer to its own site, will progress towards formal agreement by the end of the school year.
The building designs and plans for Ridge View will be reviewed in conjunction with the school to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of pupils and staff in this new location.
A new planning application for Yeoman’s Field is expected to be submitted later this year with a decision next spring.
Subject to planning approval, KCC hopes to begin construction of the new Ridge View buildings on Yeoman’s Field by July 2016, with a view to handing over the new school buildings in time for September 2017.
Roger Gough, KCC’s Cabinet member for Education, said: “We recognised some while ago that there was a demand for more places for children with the kinds of needs catered for by Ridge View.
“Finally and hopefully we can move ahead with plans for the new site following some positive discussions with The Judd School. It will now be able to develop its new fields ahead of the existing schedule with exciting new facilities closer to the main school.
“We are delighted to have found somewhere for Ridge View that we hope all interested parties will support.”
The headmaster of The Judd School, Robert Masters, said: “We are pleased to be able to support the relocation of Ridge View, which plays a vital role in the Tonbridge school community and beyond. At the same time, this arrangement will enable us to bring forward the development of our new sports facilities, provided the necessary permissions are forthcoming.”
Ridge View headteacher Jacqui Tovey said: “We are obviously delighted that the plans for our relocation to a new site are moving ahead.
“Thanks to the co-operation between KCC and The Judd School, the pupils of Ridge View will benefit from important new and expanded facilities.
“Parents, staff and Governors who were informed last week are fully supportive of these new plans and we are very keen to work with KCC and the Judd to finally fulfil our vision for the new school.”