PLANS to establish a new horticulture school in an Ipswich town park are set to be approved.

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Suffolk New College is looking to open the new base in Chantry Park in time for the start of the next academic year and train a group of students in a wide range of skills.

The school would use existing nursery buildings used by Activ Lives and new, temporary buildings for training and education and include a new car park, for 30 spaces, access routes, outdoor lighting and a footpath.

The college’s Mary Gleave said the site proposals were now finalised and, subject to final planning permission and arrangements with the council, the college intended to have the first intake of students from September on full-time courses from the site.

She said: “Initially there is likely to be one group of students from September and we are considering a second group in January. As well as full-time students there will be apprentices and work-based learners with a horticultural specialism as the college develops this new curriculum.

“For the college, horticulture is one of the few areas of curriculum that we do not teach. We have identified a need for this curriculum offer with a more urban focus for the benefit of young people in Ipswich and south Suffolk.

“The college is very experienced at introducing new subjects. We introduced music a few years ago and it has expanded to twice what we expected and at a much faster rate than could have been anticipated. Introducing horticulture for our young people is a very exciting development for the college.”

She said the site in Chantry Park was “ideal” for the scheme, which would be initially approved for a three-year period.

She added: “The college is fortunate to work in partnership with a charity called Activ Lives who are already using part of the site and with Ipswich Borough Council who were looking for organisations to utilise this location.

“The nursery setup is ideal for the college curriculum and the location of it within a public park provides opportunities, in partnership with the borough council, to work in the wider park to the benefit of the local community.”

In a report to Ipswich Borough Council’s planning and development control committee, which meets next week to discuss the proposal, officers have recommended that the temporary three-year project be approved.

They said: “The proposal would be an appropriate community/educational use in this location having regard to the ecology and amenity impact, highway safety and impact upon the conservation area. The proposal would be sustainable and would take an available opportunity to improve the area.”

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