Work begins on new Rochester Riverside primary school


A groundbreaking ceremony has marked the start of construction on the new two-form entry primary school at Rochester Riverside, Countryside and Hyde’s £419m regeneration scheme in Medway.

The ceremony was attended by pupils from fellow schools in the Pilgrim Multi-Academy Trust, which the Rochester Riverside Church of England Primary School will be joining, as well as Cllr Alan Jarrett, Leader of Medway Council, key stakeholders from Countryside, Hyde and Mid Group, which is delivering the new school, and even Countryside mascot Bill Ding.

With construction now underway, the new school is expected to open for its first pupils in September 2022, growing year on year. When full it will cater for 420 pupils with classes ranging from nursery to Year 6, the school will provide contemporary state-of-the-art classrooms and teaching areas along with sports and play facilities.

Designed by architects Bond Bryan, the two-storey building will sit on a raised deck, which provides outdoor teaching space directly from the nursery and reception classrooms. The school grounds will contain a range of facilities that contribute to learning, health and wellbeing, including a grassed sports area with exercise trail and a multi-use games area.

The school will also have space for an outdoor events stage, a nursery and reception play area, several plant beds and a habitat zone for teaching about local wildlife. In the centre of this external area are the remnants of Rochester’s historic City Wall, which will act as a focal point for the school grounds.

The school will be located in a new open space within the Rochester Riverside development, surrounded by three newly created public parks, Acorn Park, Acorn Play Area and Bridge Park. This space opens out on to the River Medway and river walkway, affording views of the river and the historic centre of Rochester. Classrooms will benefit from views of the River Medway and Bridge Square, as well as high levels of natural light which will provide a conducive environment for learning.

Andrew Usher, Managing Director, Partnerships South London, Countryside, commented: “With Phase 1 and 2 of Rochester Riverside almost fully complete and Phase 3 underway, we are excited to build on this momentum with the start of construction of the new Rochester Riverside Primary School. This is a landmark moment for the northern area of Rochester Riverside, which will be home to the school, three new parks as well as much-needed homes and amenities – opening up another area of the Medway riverside for the first time.”

Guy Slocombe, Chief Investment Officer at Hyde, added: “It is great to see the new primary school, which holds such an important role in the new community we are creating at Rochester Riverside, take this key step forward. Delivered in partnership with Countryside, Mid Group, Medway Council and Homes England, the new school will be an exemplary space for children to learn, and we’re looking forward to the opening next year.”

Jan Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of The Pilgrim Multi Academy Trust, said: “Exciting times! Seeing the boards going up and hearing the first noises from the construction site has made it seem very real. All teams have been working hard to get this project off the ground and will continue to do so to ensure we can welcome our first pupils into the school next year. Our excellent school staff at The Pilgrim Multi Academy Trust are planning for Riverside to benefit their expertise and talents, ensuring that all who attend will flourish from day one.”

Cllr Alan Jarrett, Leader of Medway Council, said: “This is a fantastic milestone for our flagship regeneration scheme, Rochester Riverside, and I am very pleased that work is now underway to build the new primary school. Not only will the new Rochester Riverside Church of England Primary School provide much-needed school places for local children, it will have excellent facilities to help children reach their full potential. This and the creation of three new parks around the school also supports our aspiration to become a Child-Friendly City, putting children and young people at the heart of everything we do. I look forward to watching the work being progressed by our excellent partners on the site, and the pace of this development is testament to Medway’s resilience as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Rochester Riverside is the region’s flagship regeneration project, delivered by Countryside and Hyde over 12 years. A new mixed-tenure community of up to 1,400 new homes is being created, along with a new primary school, nursery, hotel, 2.5km river walkway, commercial units, parking, green open spaces, play areas and landscaping.