As Wouldham and Peters Village schoolchildren and their families stand by for the worst of winter, they will be cheered to see Stella Wingate running the school crossing patrol.
Stella was appointed at the beginning of the autumn term 2018 after funding provided to Wouldham All Saints Church of England Primary School by Peters Village developer Trenport, and the housebuilders of the site: Bellway, Ashberry, Orbit and Hyde & Westerhill.
Since then, clad in her hi-visibility uniform, she has helped hundreds of children cross the road at the Medway Inn junction, between Knowle Road, High Street and Hall Road, a role that becomes increasingly important in gloomy wintertime conditions before and after school.
“I love the job, especially as I’ve lived in Wouldham for 17 years now and feel I’m contributing something to a village I’ve come to love,” said Stella. “The children always say ‘thank you’ after I’ve seen them across the road safely and that gives me a warm feeling.
“I’ve also had fantastic support from the school and the head, Carl Fitter. The hours are handy too, as I can be home when my 16-year-old daughter Jade comes in from her own school day.
“I was surprised to learn that I would need two days’ training, but the course was actually very useful and gave me a better insight into all the safety aspects,” she added.
The role also adds neatly to what really has been a caring career for Stella, who previously worked as a registered nurse and an occupational health advisor, before ‘retiring’ last Easter after ten years as a self-employed foot health practitioner.
“I like to be active, so a lot of my spare time is spent outside, gardening and walking the dog and also in the local church choir,” added Stella, who has moved around in her career, with locations including the Lake District, Cornwall and nine years in South Africa.
Wouldham school moved from its former site in the centre of village in February last year to an all-new purpose-built complex – the land and funding being provided by Trenport – in order to cater for both the children of Wouldham and those living on Peters Village, which is set to have 1,000 homes within the next few years.
The school’s head, Carl Fitter, said: “The new school location is ideally placed for Wouldham and the new community at Peters Village, but the safety of children walking to the new school was paramount, so we are absolutely delighted to have Stella as our ‘lollipop lady’. Everybody loves her here!”
Peters Village developer Trenport has been consulting nearby residents on a plan to add up to 110 more homes to the fledgling community near Wouldham and Burham.
The original scheme envisaged 1,000 new homes, transforming brown field acres once occupied by a former cement works and chalk quarry, but it omitted further viable development land extensions – one to the north and one to the south.
With the roads and services infrastructure for Peters Village in place, a new school and playing fields completed, plus the new village hall and shops due next year, Trenport will now apply to Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council (TMBC) for permission to bring those extensions into the scheme.
Trenport spokesman and Director Chris Hall said: “Peters Village was designed to be a community with homes to suit all pockets and circumstances and the extensions will include additional affordable housing stock.
“The southern extension can also improve access to and amenity use of the River Medway, echoing the highly acclaimed riverside walk already created at Peters Village.”
Mr Hall added that the planning application to TMBC will include detailed assessment of the proposal’s effect on traffic, ecology, archaeology and flood risk:
“We are particularly aware that residents may fear more housing could cause local traffic issues. So, we will not only provide current traffic surveys, but also consider what is likely to be generated when Peters Village is fully developed.”
Trenport has leafleted the affected area (see the copy below - a large print version is available from: firstname.lastname@example.org) and actively sought comments by email over several weeks up to 3rd December 2018.
Once Trenport’s application is submitted, TMBC is also expected to conduct its own community consultation.
The proposed northern extension site is a field between Knowle Road and the bulk of the former quarry that is now isolated and unsuitable for farming. No vehicular or pedestrian access will be permitted from Knowle Road itself.
The site is currently screened by trees along the boundary with Knowle Road, which would remain to screen the 25 new homes proposed. Some chalk will be excavated to lower the site to blend with the neighbouring level of Peters Village, allowing surplus to then be transported to revise levels at the southern extension, formerly occupied by West Kent Portland Cement Works.
The new height will ensure that the proposed 85 houses and flats here are protected from river flooding, and allow a public footpath and possible cyclepath to be laid to connect with the promenade at Peters Village, thereby completing the Medway Valley Walk on this stretch of the river.
Part of the southern site will be retained as green space, and to improve the now famous Peters Village habitat for the endangered Great Crested Newt species.
This is where the Peters Village team post regular updates on the latest happenings and developments in our new village.