Gravesend Grammar School expansion at risk after fire safety concerns

by My Kent Family reporter

The expansion of a Kent grammar school could be stopped unless an extra £900,000 is found to counter fire safety concerns.

A new teaching block and canteen are being built at Gravesend Grammar School as part of a £7.6million redevelopment scheme.

Grammar Grammar School in Church Walk Picture: Nick Johnson
Grammar Grammar School in Church Walk Picture: Nick Johnson

But more public money will need to be invested into the project after Kent Fire and Rescue Service says two fire hydrants need to be installed and adequate water supplies provided on the Church Walk site.

Kent County Council (KCC), the local education authority, will decide whether to approve extra funding for the scheme over the next four weeks.

A KCC report published online last week says: "Without the installation of new static tanks and fire hydrants, the Gravesend Grammar School project will be halted."

The initial decision to expand the school was made by KCC in July 2020 in order to create more places for students in the town.

A lack of hydrants and static tanks was raised as an issue by Kent's fire service in November, despite Baxall Construction already starting work.

Kent's fire service says 94,500 litres of water need to be provided in each of the two buildings, which is the equivalent of three large tanks.

Gravesend Grammar School. Picture: Google
Gravesend Grammar School. Picture: Google

This would provide enough water for 45 minutes in case of a fire.

A KCC report says: "The existing school does not have any fire hydrants on site and the original tendered design and scope did not include any fire hydrants within the project as they were not deemed to be a requirement at that time.

"We now believe that this will be the position going forward for any major building schemes and KCC Infrastructure team will need to factor in provision for either a sprinkler system or hydrants in future."

Kent county councillors will review the need for extra funding during a debate at County Hall, Maidstone, on July 19. It would mean the project's total cost would rise to £8.5million.

A final decision will be made by KCC's education cabinet member, Cllr Shellina Prendergast, on August 4.

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