Meopham School expansion plans to include new parking lot to solve traffic problems


An oversubscribed high school revised its offer for a major extension to add new parking to alleviate traffic problems.

Meopham School submitted a planning request earlier this year to erect a new two-story building to accommodate hundreds of new students based at the existing Wrotham Road site.

The Meopham school is looking to expand the existing site. Photo: Bond Bryan

The existing facilities at the non-selective academy were built to accommodate just under 800 students, but as of September, the school already had 936 students.

For the past four years, it has welcomed 30 additional students per year at the request of the school authority, Kent County Council, due to population growth in Gravesend and surrounding areas.

During the last school year in September, Meopham school doubled this number, increasing it from 140 to 200.

To address capacity issues, a planning offer was presented in March for an entrance extension to two forms on a disused area of ​​the site to provide new teaching and learning spaces, as well as a room. music class, a theater and dance studio and a main hall.

But the plan was later withdrawn in response to a number of concerns raised about the impact on the local road network.

New parking has been proposed in response to traffic problems.  Photo: Meopham School
New parking has been proposed in response to traffic problems. Photo: Meopham School

Revised proposals were presented to include a new dedicated parking lot with a drop-off and pick-up area which the school said will “significantly reduce” the impact of the proposal on the local highway.

Due to the academy’s rural location, many of its students travel to and from the site by car.

However, parking at the shared site is currently very limited with access issues for buses and those in the community wishing to use the public library, medical center, nursery and recreation room.

The new drop-off and pick-up facility will provide parents with on-site parking, away from Wrotham Road and local streets.

It was designed with a ‘fast-track’ disembarkation lane for morning use and standard parking spaces to allow parents to park and wait at the end of the school day.

The layout of the internal road will also be improved to improve traffic flow and at the entrance, the roadway will be widened to two lanes with new signage and road markings.

A CGI view of the new building as it would look from the reception of the existing building.  Photo: Bond Bryan
A CGI view of the new building as it would look from the reception of the existing building. Photo: Bond Bryan

A new area reserved for buses is also proposed to allow buses to circulate to and from the site without disturbing other vehicles.

The proposed new building designs have not changed and Meopham School has since launched a public consultation page to seek opinions on parking plans before the resubmission.

In a statement, school principal Kate Girling said: “The planned expansion includes additional parking and an on-site drop-off / collection area.

“This means students can arrive safely and be picked up from school without having to negotiate the busy main road.

“This can also have the advantage of relieving congestion in the village since we will be able, for the first time, to encourage parents to come on site to drop off or pick up their children.”

On the wider need for expansion, Ms Girling added, “We are very proud of the success Meopham School has had over the past few years and are confident that we want to offer everyone in the area the opportunity. to go to Meopham school if they choose.

The new Meopham school building opened in 2018, but more space is already needed.  Photo: Gary Browne.
The new Meopham school building opened in 2018, but more space is already needed. Photo: Gary Browne.

“We aspire to establish ourselves further in the heart of the community and believe that the expansion of the building will have a positive impact for students, parents and the community as a whole.

Meopham has been managed by the Swale Academies Trust since 2013 and opened a £ 14million building in 2018.

It has become a popular choice for parents and has a reputation for performing well in exams.

During its last inspection in January 2019, the school was rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted and was recognized as Kent’s top performing non-selective school for the fourth year in a row.

Click here to view the online questionnaire or here to learn more about the project. The deadline for comments is Friday, December 17 at noon.