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Demolition begins on 1950s buildings at former Walmer Science College

Demolition work is underway on dilapidated 1950s buildings at a former college to make way for the extension of a school.

Bulldozers have been seen in action this week at the old Walmer Science College near Deal.

Demolition has begun at Walmer Science College. Picture: Paul KidmanDemolition has begun at Walmer Science College. Picture: Paul Kidman
Demolition has begun at Walmer Science College. Picture: Paul Kidman

It comes after plans were approved in 2020 for The Beacon School in Folkestone to expand onto a satellite site at the former college.

In March 2023, it was confirmed a further £16 million would be pumped into the project after it emerged it would cost five times more than expected.

Councillors agreed to provide the cash injection but warned the huge cost increase is equivalent to building four new primary schools.

A £20 million investment will see up to 240 more special school places made available at the old science education centre.

These will be for pupils living with disabilities – notably autism and social and emotional mental health needs.

The project will see an extension made for The Beacon School in Folkestone. Picture: Paul KidmanThe project will see an extension made for The Beacon School in Folkestone. Picture: Paul Kidman
The project will see an extension made for The Beacon School in Folkestone. Picture: Paul Kidman

Pictures taken earlier this week show the site is being torn down, with drone footage capturing three diggers demolishing several buildings on the site.

New students at the school will be welcomed for the 2025/26 academic year.

Kent County Council’s cabinet member for education and skills, Rory Love, said: “Work involved includes construction of a brand new two-storey block, demolishing buildings from the 1950s dilapidated modular buildings and refurbishing what remains.

“We are looking forward to the 2025/26 academic year when this project, which represents an investment of around £20 million in high-quality SEND provision, will be fully complete.”

The former Walmer Science College in Salisbury Road closed 10 years ago.

All buildings from the 1950s will be torn down. Picture: Paul KidmanAll buildings from the 1950s will be torn down. Picture: Paul Kidman
All buildings from the 1950s will be torn down. Picture: Paul Kidman

The first phase of the new satellite school – which was originally estimated to cost £1.6m – opened in April 2021 and ended up costing £3.1m.

Planning permission for another two phases of the construction was granted in February 2023.

When complete, the school will cater for pupils with autism and learning difficulties. It currently has 80 pupils.

A report presented to councillors ahead of a meeting of KCC’s children’s, young people, and education cabinet committee in March last year, said costs for phase one of the project increased after the build commenced in April 2020.

This owed to a historic lack of maintenance of the buildings, and the need to replace electrics, heating, and data cabling.

Diggers were seen at the site earlier this week. Picture: Paul KidmanDiggers were seen at the site earlier this week. Picture: Paul Kidman
Diggers were seen at the site earlier this week. Picture: Paul Kidman

A review of the buildings recommended that part of the college that had been built in the 1950s should be demolished and rebuilt as it could not be refitted to meet the needs of a special education school.

The review concluded another part of the site, which was built in 2004, could be retained.

The first of the two new blocks will include 18 classrooms, therapy rooms, and a gym for Key Stage One and Two pupils. The second, for older pupils, will have 10 classrooms.

The Beacon School has been contacted for comment.

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