Major boost to special school expansion plans

An artists impression of the second site at Brookfield Walk. Picture: Rio Architects

An artists impression of the second site at Brookfield Walk. Picture: Rio Architects - Credit: Archant

Plans to create more school places for pupils with profound and severe learning difficulties have moved a major step forward.

North Somerset Council's plans for a second site for Baytree Special School in Clevedon's Brookfield Walk will not be the subject of a public inquiry.

As the proposal is for a large development in the greenbelt, the planning application had been referred to the Secretary of State (SoS) for Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG).

The SoS can either leave it to the council to decide the application or call a public inquiry. The authority received a letter on Monday confirming that the planning application will not be the subject of a public inquiry and the decision will remain with the council.

The current school site at Highlands Lane, in Locking Castle, Weston, cannot expand at its current location. 

More: Special school 'bursting at seams' due to high demand for spaces.

The number of children with special educational needs and disabilities is growing and the application for the second site was made in response to the need for extra local school places.  

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.

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"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 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."

The new site at Brookfield Walk will be able to accommodate up to 85 pupils and has been chosen because it has good access from across North Somerset allowing for easier journeys for children with the most severe needs.    

A final planning decision is expected in the summer and it is hoped the new school will be available to pupils during the 2022/23 school year.

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