VIDEO: Protestors oppose special school plans on Clevedon greenbelt site
PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 July 2019
Frustrated neighbours have slated a scheme which would see a school built on greenbelt land.
Plans to expand Baytree Special School, in Worle, to a second site at Brookfield Walk in Clevedon were revealed by North Somerset Council's child and young person scrutiny panel last month.
North Somerset Council hopes the new school will cater to the growing need for special educations needs (SEN) pupils which has seen more children across the district have a Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in place, rise from 534 to 948 since 2015.
The £12million school would be up and running by September 2021 and hold about 50 places.
However, it was branded a 'sorry saga' by Clevedon councillor David Shopland who said he was 'sworn to secrecy' by the previous council.
Planning officers have recommended the first steps to expand the school commence, saying the Worle school is still 'too small' despite small-scale projects to enhance the classroom.
But people living in the area have started to fight against the application, fearing for the loss of open space and wildlife in the proposed development area.
They have created a video calling for the council to refuse the application and 'save its fields'.
Denise Richardson, who joined in with the protest film, said: "There are many objections to the proposed build. My personal main concern is the loss of wildlife, trees and hedgerows.
"There are many species of wildlife in the area, many of which are protected and in an era of irrevocable climate change, we should be encouraging wildlife safe habitats, not destroying them."
Denise feels the council was 'deceitful' by keeping the plans under lock and key.
She added: "We just don't want it built on. It is the last green space in east Clevedon - people travel to walk their dogs here as there is so little green space left.
"We believe once a school is built there will be no stopping the council on adding to the build as utilities will then be available.
"Over the years they have tried with a lorry park, allotments, cemetery, areas for maintenance of local council homes, you name it.
"We just want it left alone. There are other sites available."