Springfield House in Sandling Road, Maidstone to be converted into new school after plans approved for 19th century site
A 19th-century mansion is to be converted into a new school for more than 100 children with special needs and disabilities.
Plans have been approved to turn existing offices at Springfield House, in Sandling Road, Maidstone, into a new education hub.
The application, submitted by Hobbs Parker on behalf of Starnes PLC, was granted approval by Maidstone council on Saturday, January 5.
Catering for 150 children between the ages of five and 18, it will also have 60 full-time staff.
It comes just four months after more than a hundred parents and teachers took part in a protest demanding changes to special education needs provision in schools.
Members of SEND Reform England met outside County Hall in Maidstone in September to fight against what they said was a lack of provision for their children, including insufficient spaces in special needs schools.
The Grade-II listed property was built as a mansion for the Balston family in the 19th century, although exists commercially as multiple offices today.
However, the two-storey building, which forms part of a 4,500 sq m plot, will now be used as an education facility.
Information on the application’s planning statement says: “The use of the building as a school will take place without any significant changes or therefore detrimental impacts to the fabric of the building.
“No significant internal or external works are required to facilitate the proposed use of the building.
“The provision of the school will meet the specific educational needs of children within the borough that are presently not being met locally, and for which children are having to travel to sites well outside of the borough to attain.
“The proposal has significant benefits in ensuring the educational needs of all children are met, thereby ensuring they can subsequently use the skills and knowledge attained to fully contribute to society, both socially and economically as adults, and access and experience the full range of benefits society can offer in return.
“The school is proposed to meet the significant local demand for the specialist education needs of children within the borough, which is currently being met by schools outside of the area.
“There is clearly a genuine demand for SEND school places [here] that this proposal will address.”
The school is to be operated by Serenity Schools Maidstone Ltd.
The company is a specialist education needs provider which follows “a holistic approach to education and childhood development”.
Serenity says it caters for pupils with a range of learning requirements.
Once built, the number of parking spaces will decrease at the site from 57 to 33 due to part of the existing car park being used for outside school facilities.
It will be open from 9am to 3pm from Monday to Friday.
Springfield House was sold by Kent County Council back (KCC) in 2005.
It then hit the headlines in 2022 after a different part of the site, bought by Maidstone council, was demolished.
The 16-storey Springfield Library was torn down after being labelled an “eyesore” and is being replaced by new homes.