Big Outdoors update from Sally Dyson Chair of Governors

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We write with an exciting update on our Big Outdoors planning application for a floodlit, short pile, artificial turf sports pitch for school use.   Parents will recall that although TMBC approved our planning application in the summer term the decision of the planners had to be referred to the Secretary of State before the planning permission could be granted.  We are delighted to report that over the summer holidays the Secretary of State confirmed there is no requirement to ‘call in’ the application for further review.  As a result our planning permission is now fully confirmed.  Having cleared this final hurdle the School is now free to progress our plans to build our all-weather pitch.  We want to get started on this straight away so that students will benefit this year from the new and enhanced facilities.  The contract is in the final stages of completion and we expect the work to begin on site shortly.  In addition to the all-weather pitch, our grass pitch areas will benefit from drainage improvements and re-seeding which means that all of our outdoor sports facilities will be significantly enhanced.
We expect the new pitch to be finished within six months.  As some work is weather dependent we are hopeful of a dry and mild winter so there is no delay in completion.  During the construction there will inevitably be significant restrictions to the extent of outdoor space for PE lessons and co-curricular activities.  The PE team are already looking at how to manage this short term reduction in sports facilities at TGS and keep disruption to a minimum.  We will write to you with more detail on the temporary changes to our sports arrangements once the contract has been finalised and we know the start date for the works.
Securing an artificial turf sports pitch for school use has been a genuine aspiration of the School for over a decade.  The enhanced facilities will bring increased opportunity and access to team sports at TGS for students now and for generations of students to follow.  The Governors and staff of the School are very grateful to all parents and friends of TGS who have supported us on the long journey to realising our goal through fundraising and adding your voice to the planning consultation process.  Thank you.
Yours sincerely
Rosemary Joyce                                               Sally Dyson
Head Teacher                                                    Chair of Governors

Our Big Outdoors Planning Application March 2017

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Please make a positive comment on our planning application for an all-weather pitch to influence outdoor sport for generations of young people.

A planning application has been submitted to Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council (TMBC) for a floodlit, short pile, artificial turf sports pitch (ATP), suitable for competition hockey and multi-use training; for grading and draining of the field into three flat surfaces; for car parking; and for a sports pavilion. The improved facilities will also allow space for cricket nets, a grass sprint track and a long jump pit.

These facilities will transform outdoor curriculum and recreational sports facilities both in the School and local community. They will benefit the health and well-being for generations of young people.

Alongside school use, the application seeks permission for some wider community use of the facilities. Respectful of the School’s location, with just one access off a residential road, the community permission would be modest but essential to enable other local schools, our outreach partners, and local organised groups to use the facilities.

To be successful, the application must have the support of the whole community, including South Tonbridge residents, TGS parents and staff, community groups and sports clubs. Planning approval will be determined by Council Committee. It is therefore important that the recommendations our Vauxhall Ward Councillors present to their Council colleagues are a fair and balanced representation of all members of their ward.

We need YOUR support:

We have just three weeks to lodge our support, so please act now! We would like you to support our application by leaving a comment on the TMBC planning website.

If there is other information you need, please do contact me.

Thank you. 

Mrs Pippa Blackstone
Director of Development 01732 365125 x221


How to support our application:

1. Find our application on the TMBC planning web page by searching for reference 17/00525/FL.

2. Read our School Statement here

3. Please leave a comment of support. The aims of the application are:

1.      To enable the School to meet its responsibility to the educational welfare of generations of students and its wider community.

2.      The development offers a valuable facility to the Tonbridge ward of Vauxhall at no cost to its residents.

3.      Permitted community use of the facilities will open vital access to funds to develop these community sporting opportunities (within the conditions of permissions granted). 

4.      The application recognises and respects the amenities of the surrounding residents.

5.       The facilities will be fit for purpose and inspiring.

6.      TGS students will have a varied Physical Education (PE) experience, accessible to everyone regardless of ability.

7.      TGS will have more opportunities for team play and competition including, but not exclusively, competitive opportunities for the sporting elite.

8.      The development will increase interest in sport, providing a springboard to out of school sports clubs which extend and encourage sporting skill and participation for life.  

9.      PE and team recreational activities will be possible throughout the year.

10.  Quality and consistency of Physical Education curriculum lessons will be transformed by the year round availability of an on-site floodlit, short pile, artificial turf sports pitch.

11.  There will no longer be disruption to curriculum PE learning caused by the waterlogging of the field.

12.  Allow wider access and vastly improved quality and extent of enriching co-curricular sports opportunities for all students.

13.  There will be far reaching, measurable benefits associated with student health and wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem as a result of the development.

14.  There will be a reduced logistical burden for parents and students as sports activities will be “in school” enabling all students who want to get involved to have the opportunity.

15.  There will be engagement of the whole school community in sport through supporting, team hosting and spectating as well as playing.

16.  Young people in the local community and not just students at the School will undoubtedly benefit from access to enhanced provision for outdoor sport.

17.  The national focus on how we must as a society better address and support the mental health and wellbeing of young people relies on the availability of good sporting facilities.

18.  Community access permission will provide opportunities for young people, including those in primary and secondary education who do not have access to purpose built sports facilities as well as the School’s outreach partners, such as an organisation supporting young adults with profound physical and learning difficulties.

19.  Limited use of floodlights to between 8am and 7.30pm weekdays and between 9am and 6.00pm on Saturdays, shows consideration and respect for the residential context of the School.

20.  Local hockey clubs welcome the opportunity to have access to the pitch occasionally.

21.  The application for community access supports the TMBC Open Spaces Strategy 2007, which identifies a shortfall of short pile pitches in the Borough. The closest short pile all weather pitch is over 30 minuites' walk from TGS.

22.  The School has worked hard to address the needs and concerns of the close community and progress has been made, it is proactive in its relationship with the local community.

23.  The application takes into account pre-planning consultation feedback. 

24.  The plans recognise the importance of the School’s natural surroundings shown by the commitment not to fell any trees during the development.

25.  The pavilion will enable users with limited mobility to access the facilities. 

Further information is available in our School Statement here or on the TMBC planning website.