Bethany School is currently in the process of preparing a detailed planning application for the demolition of Pengelly House and the construction of a replacement boarding house.

This bulletin has been provided to present the details of the proposed development and provide an opportunity for parents of the school, local residents and interested parties to provide their feedback on the proposals.

The Need for a New Boarding House

Bethany School is committed to providing an outstanding boarding experience to current and prospective boarding pupils. The school currently provides four different boarding houses; Old Poplars, the Mount, Kendon, and the Orchard.

Old Poplars boarding house is located on the northern side of Curtisden Green Lane approximately 250m north of the main school campus. To access the building, pupils are required to cross Curtisden Green Lane approximately 80m from the transition to National Speed Limit, which poses health and safety risks for the school.

Pengelly, located on the main campus, was constructed in 1977 as a boarding house to serve pupils and provided a common room and social facilities within the building. However, in more recent years, due to concerns regarding asbestos and the need for rewiring, the building has been deemed unsafe for use as a boarding facility or for pupil use. Therefore, the building currently serves limited value to the school’s campus other than offering a storage facility accessed only by maintenance staff.  

The provision of a replacement facility will support the school’s ongoing transition to amalgamate its facilities into one central campus, including the boarding facilities. This follows a recent application to relocate the school’s Performing Arts Centre to the main School site and cease use of the previous off-site facility in a building called the Music School. The creation of a single campus will offer a safer and accessible environment for pupils and staff.

The incentive to develop existing boarding facilities also follows uncertainty surrounding Brexit and further complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic which are making it harder for boarding schools across the UK to recruit pupils from overseas – one of their most important markets. Therefore, efforts to maintain the uptake of boarding places have been through appealing to the closer South London market.

Where

The proposed boarding house will broadly occupy the existing footprint of Pengelly House, adjacent to the main School entrance, thereby offering a new and visually aesthetic frontage to all pupils, parents and visitors arriving at the School.

Given the close proximity of the proposal to a number of trees, the proposed footprint has been orientated in accordance with an arboricultural assessment to ensure the protection of root protection zones and the health of local trees.

What

The proposal will provide a contemporary, state of the art boarding facility to house up to 50 current and prospective pupils as well as Housemaster and deputy Housemaster accommodation. 

The proposal seeks to accommodate an adaptable design to cater for long term flexibility in pupil numbers and their relative male and female split through the provision of two separate flexible boarding facilities for male and female pupils.

Each wing proposes to offer a kitchen, study room, common room, housekeeper's office, laundry facilities, luggage room and bathroom facilities.

This proposal is part of the school’s long-term plan to amalgamate the school into one main campus and to improve the campus facilities and infrastructure.

Feedback

We would welcome any feedback via our dedicated consultation email address which is neighbours@bethanyschool.org.uk by Wednesday 3rd August 2023.

This will help to inform the final scheme before it is submitted to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council which will be submitted shortly after the consultation period.

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