Council backs plans to rebuild SEN school in Stevenage
Matthew Smith, local democracy reporter
- Credit: Hertfordshire CC/Saunders Boston
Councillors in Stevenage have backed plans to rebuild a dated special needs school, after the county council said existing facilities were not fit for purpose.
The Valley School, in Broadhall Way, is on the site of the former Stevenage Girls School which was built in the 1960s.
The school, which opened in 1991, caters for 165 students aged 11 to 16 with a range of learning difficulties. The facilities are reaching the end of their life, with one block out-of-use having been deemed unsafe.
Plans submitted earlier this year by Herts County Council and Saunders Boston Architects will see the school rebuilt on its current site, with the new school entirely one-storey.
The new purpose-built facilities will be able to meet specific needs for pupils, and will include a new sports hall and fitness studio.
The buildings also incorporate internal courtyard areas and will sit adjacent to improved outdoor sports facilities, within the northern part of the site.
There will be a total of 63 parking spaces, including six disabled access spaces, 14 electric charging points and two spaces for minibuses.
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In its application, the architects said: “The aim of the school will be to provide a suitable environment with a high level of therapeutic support and excellent teaching for children with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs.
“Student safeguarding is a key design element, resulting in the need for single storey only accommodation with access to external spaces for every teaching area."
A public exhibition was held in June before the application was submitted by the county council in October.
The county council will make a final decision, but Stevenage Borough Council has now lent its support.
On Thursday, December 9, the borough council’s Planning Committee raised no objections to the plan.
As part of its backing, the council supported Sport England’s calls for a financial contribution to be made to mitigate the loss of playing fields and hard play areas in the town.
As construction work will take place on an unused part of the site, the school will remain open until the project is completed.
Subject to final planning permission by the county council, the school aims to open the new building in the first quarter of 2023.