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Hunt continues for new site for Norfolk special school

PUBLISHED: 06:30 08 October 2012 | UPDATED: 07:53 08 October 2012

Head Karin Heap in the ICT Suit at Chapel Road School in Attleborough.

Head Karin Heap in the ICT Suit at Chapel Road School in Attleborough.

©Archant Photographic 2010

The headteacher of a Norfolk special school said the hunt for a new site had restarted after a land deal at a nearby school fell through.

Teachers, governors and parents at Chapel Road School in Attleborough have been campaigning for more than 30 years to move away from their cramped and out-of-date premises in the town to a new purpose built site.

Headteacher Karin Heap said that a planning blueprint for the growth of Attleborough could throw up new sites for the school after proposals to develop land at Wymondham College fell through.

The school, which teaches 60 children with complex education needs between the ages of three and 19, is unable to expand at its current location in Chapel Road, which was first built as a junior training centre in 1960.

Mrs Heap said the campaign to find a new site within the Attleborough area and get funding for a new school for up to 120 pupils, which could cost around £12m, would continue after years of ups and downs.

In 2010, the school missed out on millions of pounds of funding after the coalition government shelved Labour’s Building School’s for the Future programme. The special school, which has a 25 mile catchment area, also missed out on a share of the government’s Priority School Building Programme earlier this year.

Mrs Heap said the school remained in negotiations with Norfolk County Council, the government and other agencies and partners to find a solution whilst they got on with the day job with making the most of their existing facilities.

She added that Breckland Council’s Attleborough and Snetterton Heath Area Action Plan, which is identifying land for 4,000 new homes, employment land, and new facilities in the town over the next 20 years, may identify new sites.

“The local authority did lots of research into what land was available and lots of work is going on behind the scenes, but it is not as easy as it looks as there are infrastructure issues. It is totally wrong we are still here. The site is a former Victorian landfill site and every now and then we get a big hole or subsidence.”

“We have got the local community behind us and they are all wanting to know when something happens for the positive,” she said.

The school continues to work with social entrepreneur Robert Ashton to find alternative solutions.

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