North Somerset Council's plans for a second site for Baytree Special School will not be the subject of a public inquiry. The planning application for the new building at Brookfield Walk, Clevedon had been referred to the Secretary of State (SoS) for Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) as the planning rules require all councils to do so if they propose to allow major development in the green belt. The SoS can either not intervene and leave it to the council to decide the application or alternatively call a public inquiry.
The council received a letter on Monday (29 March) from the office of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. saying that the planning application will not be the subject of a public inquiry and the decision regarding the expansion of the school onto a second site will remain with the council.
The current school site at Locking Castle in Weston-super-Mare cannot expand its pupil numbers because its site is shared with Herons’ Moor Academy and the services offered at The Campus and local children’s centre.
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. The new building is intended to meet the needs of current and future pupils and has been designed to provide an exciting and accessible learning environment in keeping with the beautiful natural surroundings.
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.
"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. It’s intended that the school will encompass as much of the natural ecosystem of the local area as a new building can permit.
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.
The planning application number is 20/P/0605/R3 and the link to view the application can be accessed from www.n-somerset.gov.uk/baytreeschoolexpansion where you'll find more information on the proposed expansion.