New 170-place school given the go-ahead
- Credit: Norfolk County Council
A new school for youngsters with special educational needs is to be built on the edge of Norwich, after it was unanimously backed by councillors.
Permission for the 170-place school at Easton was granted by members of Norfolk County Council's planning regulatory committee on Friday, June 18.
The free school will be run by The Bridge London Trust, funded by the Department for Education, to support children with learning and cognition needs aged from four to 19.
Norfolk County Council was awarded £17m in 2019 to build the school, part of its programme to create 500 extra specialist school places across the county.
Earmarked to open in January 2023, the school will be built on land to the East of Easton Gymnastics in Bawburgh Road.
Along with the L-shaped school building, the plans also include a multi-use games area, parking, fences, a new link road and part-widening of the northbound Bawburgh Road, adding a pedestrian footpath.
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The proposals go against South Norfolk Council's local development plan, with the site having been allocated for about 900 homes.
But officers said those homes could still be built on the overall 130-acre site, without needing the six acres the school would be built on.
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Penny Barratt, chief executive of the Bridge London Trust, told the committee: "We have a history of providing outstanding practice. Two of our schools are already outstanding and the other special school is yet to be inspected, as its a new school.
"We went through a tender process to bid to run this school and we would really, really like to do that.
"We recognise the need in Norfolk and the need for new special school places and we'd really like to bring the expertise we've got to running this school."
She said the design of the school was according to Department for Education standards, but she said: "We have worked very closely with Portakabin to think about the needs of the children with complex needs."
Green councillor Ben Price and Conservative Martin Storey said they hoped there would be links between the new school and Easton College.
Dr Barratt said discussions with Easton College had taken place, so ways they could work together were being considered.