A “MUCH-NEEDED ” school for children with social, emotional and mental health needs has been given the green light to be built in a North Somerset village — despite the opposition of village locals.

The new school, a permanent home for Lime Hills Academy which is currently housed in a temporary site in Nailsea, will serve 65 children aged 5 to 15 with social, emotional, and mental health needs.

Each child at the school will have a different range of needs and access to facilities and therapies tailored to them. 

But the plans faced strong opposition from some in Churchill, the village where the school is to be built.

A total of 227 people submitted objections to the planned school, with just 48 lodging supporting comments online.

Representing the objectors at North Somerset Council’s planning committee on December 13, Ian Maitland-Round said it would be “crazy” to build the school on the field off Ladymead Road where it is planned.

He said: “The field is too small for the school and its on the wrong side of the district.”

He accepted there was a need for the school in North Somerset but claimed the planned school would not meet this need.

He said: “You are looking at forty years of children unnecessarily cooped up and cramped together.”

But school principal Liz Jolley said there were no other places to build the school and urged councillors to approve the plans.

She told councillors that children only had once chance to get an education and children with social, emotional, and mental health needs should be able to get an education close to where they live.

The school includes spaces for outdoor learning and sports.

She said: “The delay in offering a permanent building is already costing some children their one chance.”

Proposing the planning committee accept the plans, councillor Robert Payne said the site was “not ideal” but proposed the planning committee approve the plans.

He said: “The benefits quite clearly outweigh any possible harms.”

Councillor Clare Hunt added that refusing planning permission would push the plans for the school “back to square one”.

She said: “If we started all over again, I can’t imagine how our young people would suffer.”

Councillors on the planning committee voted unanimously to approve the plans.

Education director at the Cabot Leaning Federation Sally Apps said it was “[It’s] absolutely fantastic news for our wider community and particularly our students and most vulnerable who currently either can’t access a school place or are having to learn in a temporary site.”

Kenton Mee, CEO of North Somerset Parent Carers Working Together, said: “We are thrilled that planning has been approved for Lime Hills specialist school.

“This will provide families in North Somerset access to much-needed specialist educational provision to support their children and young people when they have significant social emotional and mental health needs.”

Catherine Gibbons, the council’s executive member for children’s services, families and lifelong learning, said: “North Somerset has a growing need for school places to support children with social, emotional and mental health needs, so it’s fantastic news that the proposals for Lime Hills Academy have been approved.

“We are looking forward to the Department for Education delivering these much-needed facilities, so that children with acute needs can continue their education within North Somerset.

“This is part of our strategy to ensure all children can attend a good school in their local area where they can learn, grow and develop.

“Through the planning process, the Lime Hills Academy proposals have undergone robust scrutiny and today’s approval demonstrates how the project architects have designed a place of sanctuary that effectively responds to comments made during consultation.”