The school in Baston Road, which specialises in children with autism, wants to expand to take in 30 additional pupils to bring the total capacity to 115.
To accommodate the additional parking the school proposes an extra 11 parking spaces on site, and an improved entrance and internal driveway is intended to eliminate congestion on the road outside the school.
However, the site is classified as Green Belt, so the school must show ‘very special circumstances’ to justify the development, which will see the built footprint increase by some 90%.
On this key point the school cites, among other factors, the increasing demand for this specialist educational provision and that the openness overall will not be materially affected with 60% of the site still open grounds. They also point out that the nature of the education means the ten classrooms would equate to 5 or 6 classrooms in a mainstream school.
As it lies in a conservation area, any proposals must also preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the area.
Few will deny the need for quality education provision for autistic children, and we are pleased that such a provision exists in the borough when the council is looking to reduce the number of SEN children travelling far outside the area for their education. However, the council and residents will want to be satisfied that not only are there sufficient arguments to allow such building in the green belt but also that the additional traffic generation will indeed be sufficiently mitigated and that the aesthetic design is appropriate.
As your local councillors we are generally supportive of the school and its work. However, we will be studying the plans carefully and would welcome the views – for, against or neutral – of residents.
The full plans can be seen on the council website here.