Special school expansion progress
- Credit: Rio Architects
The expansion of a special school onto a popular green space in Clevedon has taken a major step forward.
North Somerset Council has approved Baytree’s plans for Brookfield Walk, but as a major development in the green belt had to refer the decision to the Secretary of State for housing, communities and local government. Robert Jenrick has now confirmed the application will not be the subject of a public inquiry.
The new site – which proved deeply controversial with neighbouring residents – will be able to accommodate up to 85 pupils and is hoped to open in the 2022/23 school year.
Cllr Catherine Gibbons, the council’s executive member for children’s services, said: “This is a major step forward in our plans to build an extension to Baytree School.
“This facility does such wonderful work in ensuring some of our most vulnerable children have the education and opportunities they deserve and the new site will allow more children and families to benefit without the need to travel so far, or out of the area.”
The council-owned site in Brookfield Walk was selected from more than 500 options after 'an exhaustive search'. Despite being in the green belt and at risk of flooding, planning officers said it was the 'only viable option'.
There were more than 600 letters of support, with the council urged to show its commitment to children and young people with complex needs.
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Many of the 1,000 objectors did not dispute that need but maintained that Brookfield Walk – popular with families and dog walkers and one of the only green spaces in the area – was the wrong location.
Cllr Gibbons added: “The plans for the building itself are very well designed and attractive, and much care has been taken to respect the natural environment around it. While change can be hard, I’m certain that the school will become an integral part of the community, valued and appreciated by all.
“Local people can feel proud to be a part of doing the greatest good for those with the greatest need. I know that I am very proud to be involved in making this happen.”
A final planning decision is expected in the summer.