Second school site gets approval despite opposition
- Credit: Archant
The expansion of a special school onto a popular green space in Clevedon has been given the green light.
North Somerset Council has approved Baytree School's plans for Brookfield Walk.
The new site – which proved deeply controversial with neighbouring residents – will be able to accommodate up to 85 pupils and is hoped to open in the 2022/23 school year.
Baytree School is unable to expand at its Weston site, based in The Campus.
The council-owned site in Brookfield Walk was selected from more than 500 options after 'an exhaustive search'. Despite being in the green belt and at risk of flooding, planning officers said it was the 'only viable option'.
Headteacher Ed Bowen-Roberts was ‘delighted’ with the approval.
He said: “As a school community we are delighted that we are now in a position to move forward with the development of the Baytree expansion.
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“The new site will significantly improve the SEND provision within North Somerset.”
In February, the council voted to approve the £14.63million budget for the project to allow the authority's finance executive Councillor Ash Cartman to approve any changes to it, and award the contract to Wilmott Dixon.
There were more than 600 letters of support, with the council urged to show its commitment to children and young people with complex needs.
Many of the 1,000 objectors did not dispute that need but maintained that Brookfield Walk – popular with families and dog walkers and one of the only green spaces in the area – was the wrong location.
A planning application was submitted to build the second site in May 2020, with children and adults protesting against the development due to the site's proximity to homes and the loss of greenbelt land.
The council’s planning committee members refused an application for town green status three moths later, which would have stopped the school being built on the green space.
Currently many students with special needs travel outside North Somerset for their education.
In its planning statement, Baytree said the development will bring about ‘wider benefits for the local community’.