Special school expansion will not 'curtail value' of greenbelt site

PUBLISHED: 08:00 09 November 2019

Campaigners outside Clevedon Town Council offices earlier this year. Picture: BBC

Campaigners outside Clevedon Town Council offices earlier this year. Picture: BBC

BBC

Controversial plans to expand a special needs school with a 'modest' building on greenbelt land in Clevedon are progressing.

North Somerset Council has asked for a screening opinion, a preliminary step in understanding the environmental impact on Brookfield Walk, before it submits a planning application.

Residents are determined to defend the land as open space and North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox has threatened to intervene.

The papers reveal, if approved, the second site for Weston's Baytree Special School will be a single-storey building designed to integrate into the natural environment, with parking for 64 vehicles, landscaping and outdoor play facilities.

The move would see the number of places available for youngsters with special needs and severe and profound learning difficulties rise from the current 72 to 120.

The £12million development in Clevedon would create 12 classrooms for pupils from preschool to 19-year-olds, bathrooms, offices, a sports hall, a dining area, a kitchen and a hydrotherapy pool.

The two-hectare site consists of three fields - the school would be built across the largest two, while the third would mostly be retained, although play equipment may be added in future.

Six trees judged to have a "moderate" value that currently form a central band through the site would be removed. A high value tree would become the focus of the entrance courtyard.

There would be a single access point from Kelting Grove, 42 standard parking spaces, 11 disabled minibus bays and nine accessible spaces.

The papers say Brookfield Walk is at risk from a "high probability" of flooding, but that is outweighed by the 'sustainability benefits to the community'.

Developers ask for screening opinions to assess environmental impact assessment of their proposals.

The papers say: "At a single storey, the school is of a modest size and will be surrounded by dense tree bandings.

"It will not provide an incongruous addition in landscape and visual terms, nor have a significant urbanising effect beyond the existing settlement of Clevedon.

"The design seeks to build upon, rather than curtail, the environmental value of the site."

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