Public consultation launched on new school scheme

An indicative look at how the new school would appear. Picture: North Somerset Council

An indicative look at how the new school would appear. Picture: North Somerset Council - Credit: North Somerset Council

Unpopular plans to build a special school on greenbelt in Clevedon have been put out for public consultation.

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

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

Brookfield Walk has been put forward as the best option for a second site but the decision has been met with fierce opposition from locals.

The consultation, launched by North Somerset Council on Thursday, says: "While there is a link between the expansion and the creation of buildings on a new site, a planning consultation will consider whether the proposed site - Brookfield Walk in Clevedon - should be developed.

"Responses to this consultation will be considered in relation to the demand for new places proposal and the option to share the educational facilities the school offers to its pupils across two sites."

Baytree is the only school in North Somerset offering education to students with severe learning difficulties and profound and multiple learning difficulties.

Brookfield Walk residents protest against the plans.

Brookfield Walk residents protest against the plans. - Credit: Sub

The children may have difficulties with sight, hearing, speaking and mobility. Often they may need help with everyday activities such as eating, washing and personal care.

Since 2015, the number of North Somerset children with an education, health and care plan has risen from 534 to 967. Nearly a quarter of them are educated outside of the area.

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This year, Baytree had to turn away five reception-aged children who would have benefited from a space - an issue expected to be replicated in future years.

Expanding on its current campus is not an option so the council looked further afield.

The consultation says: "There was not a single site that fully met the requirements for the new school.

"Brookfield Walk in Clevedon was identified as the most suitable available location for the school expansion, specifically in relation to its location near to a district centre and being affordable and deliverable within the constraints of the funding available and timing needed for delivery.

"The development of the expansion of the school in Clevedon is subject to a successful planning application. It is currently intended that an application may be made from November 2019. This application will be subject to the formal planning process which will include further consultation."

Cllr David Shopland has said Brookfield Walk was 'totally unsuitable' because it is in the greenbelt and liable to flood. He warned residents were 'up in arms because they will be cut off from all possible public open space'.

North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox has also vowed to seek Government intervention to stop the scheme, if the council continues to push ahead with it.

Drop-in events will be held at North Somerset Council's Castlewood offices and at Weston Town Hall on October 7 and October 10, respectively. Both sessions will run from 2.30-8pm.

The consultation will end on October 25.

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