Rosherville Primary School, in London Road, Northfleet to move to Cable Wharf development in Ebbsfleet Garden City
A school which has waited more than 20 years for promised new premises can look forward to a “trailblazing” building complete with a state-of-the-art science laboratory.
Plans to expand and relocate Rosherville Primary School have been on the cards for decades but thanks to a site becoming available at the Cable Wharf Development in Northfleet, it can finally move.
The school will keep its name and expand to welcome children from the new housing development, thereby increasing it to three times its current size.
At a consultation evening at St Botolph’s Primary School in Northfleet, the public were given the chance to give their views on the proposals which include a zero emissions building in keeping with the Department of Education’s new guidelines.
The two-storey building will also include provision for 15 special educational needs pupils, a 26-place nursery and a science laboratory.
CEO of Aletheia Academies Trust Steve Carey, who took over the running of the school in 2018, said: “We are especially excited to be including a specialist science lab as it is not often primary school pupils get to use a fully-fitted science lab.”
Mr Carey said the school will be working with STEM South East to ensure the lab will also be available to other primary and secondary pupils and the wider community.
The school also aims to offer its floodlight football pitches for after school clubs as well as its hall and kitchen facilities for wider use.
Mr Carey said: “We always wanted it to be very inclusive of the whole community.”
The creation of the new school will see the intake increase from 20 pupils per year to 60.
The expansion plans will see the school relocate from London Road to Northfleet Embankment, within the Cable Wharf development, and eventually have enough spaces for 420 youngsters as well as the on-site nursery.
The school, which was rated good by Ofsted last September for the first time since it opened, currently has 140 pupils.
Co-chair of governors Emma Bonner and daughter Demi, a pupil in Year 5, were excited about the plans.
Demi said: “I’m looking forward to it being a bigger school. I like the idea of the big football pitches and the science lab.
“It’s also exciting that it is on two floors and having a lift is important for people in wheelchairs.”
She is also excited about having more pupils in her class.
“I’ll have more choice of friends,” she added.
Mum Emma was keen the new school is inclusive of pupils from Rosherville’s existing catchment area, as well as welcoming pupils from the new development.
“The access from the top of the cliff needs looking at as it is very poorly lit,” she added. “It is important the existing community around the current school is welcomed as much as the new pupils.”
Mr Carey was also keen to highlight this point.
“This is an expansion and relocation of an existing school it is not a brand new school,” he said.
“The idea is to create a great opportunity to bring the two communities together – the existing Rosherville community and the new community to create one community.”
Northfleet & Gravesend West and Kent County Council councillor Conrad Broadley is looking forward to the new building, which is just 200 metres from the current school site.
“It’s much needed with all the new housing,” he said. “It’s going to be a larger, more modern school.”
He is also pleased it is keeping some links to the past.
“It’s nice that it is keeping with the heritage of the area and keeping the name Rosherville so there are links to the old school but also links to Victorian times when the area was known as Rosherville Pleasure Gardens and would attract one million visitors a year to the zoological gardens and fun fair. “
Mr Carey agreed. “It was very important that we kept the Rosherville name and the links to the site’s past.”
The Cable Wharf development is part of the Ebbsfleet Garden City scheme and includes 598 new homes.
A report to the Children’s Young People and Education Cabinet Committee last March addressed the key points in the proposals including the generation of an extra one and a half classes of primary pupils due to the building of Ebbsfleet Development Corporation’s (EDC) three new developments.
The report stated: “Analysis of the provision in the Northfleet and West Gravesend planning group indicates that there is insufficient capacity to accommodate this demand.”
The location of Rosherville Primary School was also highlighted as a positive reason for the proposal due to its “challenging site on top of a quarry cliff”.
The school buildings were said to be “very old or in need of replacement”, with the main building being of the Victorian era, and with no place to expand.
An increase in pupils numbers was also thought to be more “financially viable to support the future of the school”.
The land has been awarded to the county council as part of the Cable Wharf housing developer's section 106 contributions.
Once completed the area will also include shops, restaurants and cafes, and open spaces including a riverside promenade, waterfront play park, community square and Italian gardens.
The new school, which will initially increase the intake by 10 pupils to 30, is set to open in September 2025. The school will then expand to two classes after two years.
The planning application is to be submitted in December.