Site allocated for Baytree Special School expansion


Council-owned land in Clevedon has been allocated as a potential site for an expansion of Baytree Special School, as part of North Somerset Council’s wider strategy to provide more school places for children who have special educational needs.

Currently Baytree Special School is the only school in North Somerset which is designated to provide education to children with severe and profound learning difficulties.

With an increasing number of children in North Somerset who have severe and profound needs, council officers have been working with the school to look at ways to increase its provision.

The current school buildings are not able to accommodate the increase in demand and meet the needs of the increasing number of children with complex needs. Therefore, a second site has been sought where the school could expand and increase the number of places it has available.

In total 13 sites were considered as possible locations for the expansion. Each site was rigorously assessed against several criteria including size, location, community links, local facilities, ownership, any planning restrictions which may be in place and how quickly the expansion would be able to be completed.

Land to the south-east of Brookfield Walk in Clevedon was identified as the most suitable location.

Cllr Mark Canniford, executive member with responsibility for business, economy and employment, said: “We urgently need to increase provision across North Somerset for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, and we’re committed to doing so.

“Having reviewed all the information related to this decision, as asked by the relevant panels and independently from officers, I came to a shortlist of two sites. After discussion with officers and understanding the problems relating to one of the sites, I reduced my shortlist to one possible location which is the land by Brookfield Walk in Clevedon.

“I see no other possible location to extend Baytree Schools’ provision for severely or life limited disabled young people. If we continue needing to place very vulnerable pupils outside of North Somerset there is a risk the only schools able to accommodate their needs could be upwards of 75 minutes away. This site gives much more local provision to meet their needs. I have asked for work in the development of this site, if approved by planning, to consider opportunities to limit the effects on local residents and retain as much of the natural habitat as possible.

“I understand the sensitivities regarding the proposed expansion and am aware of the strength of feeling of local neighbours. Now that a decision has been made as to which site to allocate for the expansion, officers will be able to meet with residents to listen to their concerns and hopefully provide them with information regarding the proposed expansion which will allay their fears.”

The expansion is subject to planning permission being granted, with detailed designs set to be drawn up in the coming months. It is anticipated that a planning application will be submitted later this year. Local residents, Clevedon Town Council, members of the public and community organisations will then able to have their say on proposed designs during the planning consultation.

The site would provide school places for 65 pupils, with the potential to increase this to 85 places in the future. In total the school would expand from 72 places to 120 places, with students able to attend at the second site from September 2021. The cost of the expansion is estimated to be £12.5m.

Huw Davies, Chair of Governors at Baytree Special School, said: “As the Governing Board of Baytree School we support the much-needed expansion of our current school with the creation of a second site on Brookfield Walk.

“The second site will create a positive impact on the lives of the children and young people with the most complex special educational needs by ensuring access to the most appropriate learning environment. The second site will not only ensure children and young people with profound and multiple learning difficulties educational needs are met, but will also free up capacity within the current site and increase much needed provision for children and young people with severe learning difficulties and autism.”

The decision notice, including the appraisal of sites, can be viewed online at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/august2019executivememberdecisions.