Bethany School is currently in the process of preparing a detailed planning application to build a linked building to the main School dining room to provide a modern purpose built Performing Arts Centre.

The following information has been provided to present the details of the proposed development and give an opportunity for local residents and interested parties to provide their feedback on the proposals.

The Need for a New Performing Arts Centre

Over the years, Bethany School has produced a number of outstanding musicians and performers, including an actor who played a lead role in Eastenders and several pupils attending music conservatories. In 2016, old Bethanian, Charlie Andrew won the Brit Award for Music Producer of the year and has since returned to the School to discuss his time at Bethany School and how this had allowed him the creative freedom to fuse his interest in science with his love of music.

Bethany School’s 10-year business plan highlights the need for investment in music and drama facilities available at the School. The School has undergone a sustained programme of development including purpose-built facilities for subjects such as Science, Art and Textiles, Geography and Physical Education.

The existing drama and music facilities are no longer considered to provide a high-quality environment for 21st Century education. In addition to this, the existing music school building is situated away from the School’s main campus, requiring pupils to cross Curtisden Green Lane which poses health and safety risks.

The School is now therefore looking to provide a new purpose-built performing arts facility for the creative arts under one roof, within the main School campus. This facility will significantly enhance the School’s ability in providing for the creative and performing educational needs of existing and future pupils and ensure the longevity of Bethany School.

Bethany School has engaged a team of professional advisers to bring forward the proposals including award-wining local architects, Kent based planning advisers, landscape, tree, and ecological consultants.

Where

The proposed Performing Arts Centre will be a linked building to the western end of the dining room, at an angle towards the north-west. A new lobby area will be constructed as part of the proposed development, linking the new theatre to the dining room.

The positioning of the extension has been influenced by the siting of existing built form of the campus. In doing so, this will ensure that any views of the proposed development would be seen against the surrounding School buildings.

The existing facilities located within the music school building on the northern side of Curtisden Green Lane will be re-provided within the new facility. Subject to obtaining planning consent, the current plan is that the existing music school will be sold by Bethany School and the revenue from this will be used to help finance the construction of the Performing Arts Centre.

The construction of the new Performing Arts Centre will also allow for the removal of the existing mobile classroom which currently services as a ‘Drama and Dance Studio’. This will be replaced with a green space at the centre of the campus thus accentuating the rural feel of the School.

The proposed block plan can be found here.

What

The proposal will provide a contemporary, state of the art performance space alongside internal reconfiguration of the rooms overhead and adjacent to the dining room to provide a dance theatre, drama and music classroom, music practice rooms and associated offices and kitchen areas dedicated to the performing arts.

The existing facilities within this area such as the library will be re-provided within the Science Block which benefits from large multi-purpose rooms. These will be restructured accordingly.

This proposal is part of the School’s long-term plan to improve the campus facilities and infrastructure.

Please click here for the existing and proposed ground floor plans.

Please click here for the existing and proposed mezzanine and first floor plans.

There are three external views which can be accessed here, external view 1, external view 2 and the performance space.

Traffic and Parking

The primary function of the Performing Arts Centre is to offer state of the art facilities to our pupils. As a registered Charity, the School would welcome local community groups wishing to use it. This of course would be limited to non-term time for safeguarding reasons given that the location of the new building is in the heart of campus and we have a substantial number of boarders living on site.

It is our intention to utilise the spoil created by the ground works associated with the proposal to fill in the outdoor swimming pool recess. This will not only reduce construction traffic through the process but also provide a more sustainable construction process.

The former outdoor pool area will then be utilized as an additional car park to serve the performing arts centre as well as becoming the alternate car parking facility for the existing car park located beside the Music School. Consequently, the School campus will be able to contain all cars attending future School events.

Feedback

In the interest of safety of members of the public and the School community, due to Covid-19, we are unable to hold a public consultation event to present the scheme and answer your questions. We are therefore relying on any feedback obtained through this website update which can be used to inform the final scheme ahead of its submission to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

We would welcome any feedback via our dedicated consultation email address neighbours@bethanyschool.org.uk.

We would request that any comments are submitted by Friday 9th October to allow us to properly consider these as part of the final proposal.

The detailed planning application will be submitted shortly after the consultation period.