Green light given for new schools in East and West Norfolk

21 February 2020

Planning permission has been granted today (Friday, 21 February) for the construction of a new specialist school on the former Alderman Swindell site in Great Yarmouth and a new primary and nursery in Gayton.

The decision brings Norfolk County Council a step closer to delivering on its pledge to provide more school places for children and young people in the Great Yarmouth area with special educational needs.

The new school is part of the county council's ambitious plan to transform special needs education in Norfolk by investing £120m to create 500 additional school places across the county. The programme involves building up to four new specialist schools, establishing more specialist units in mainstream schools and working with schools to ensure they have the resources they need to provide local inclusive education.

Norfolk County Council Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Cllr John Fisher said: “Nationwide, the country is facing an ever-growing demand for specialist school places and Norfolk is experiencing the same pressure.

“We have promised to meet that challenge by investing millions of pounds to create hundreds more special needs school places across the county. This is one of the biggest programmes of its type in the country and will support more of Norfolk’s most vulnerable children and reduce the need for some of them to have to travel to get the education they need and deserve. Today’s decision means we can provide essential places in the Great Yarmouth area for nearly 100 children.”

The new school will provide specialist school places for up to 94 boys aged 5-16 with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs.

It will be run by Boudica Schools Trust (formerly Rightforsuccess Trust) which manages 10 academies including one specialist school, Eaton Hall Specialist Academy in Norwich, which caters for boys with SEMH and is ranked outstanding by Ofsted.

Don Evans, CEO of Boudica Schools Trust said: 'We are delighted that the Planning Committee has today approved the new school which we believe will be transformational for children in the local area who have social, emotional and mental health difficulties and also for their families'

'Our focus now will be on working in close partnership with the Local Authority and the local community to ensure we establish a school we can all be proud of'

Norfolk County Councillor for Yarmouth North and Central, Cllr Mick Castle said: “The county council has always said it wants the Alderman Swindell site to be used as a school for local children and today’s decision ensures it will continue to do so for many years to come.

“All the evidence shows that children with SEMH who receive the type of specialist support this school will provide can make huge progress and go on to fulfil their ambitions in the future. I am sure that the families in this area whose children are assessed as needing this education will warmly welcome today’s decision.”

The construction project will involve building a new block of classrooms plus residential provision which will enable around 30-40 children and staff to live on site during the school week and avoid the need for the children to travel to and from school every day.

A parking and waiting area for taxis and mini-cabs will also be built and the site will have a playing field and multi-use games area.

The existing historic frontage of the original school will be retained.

Norfolk-based Pentaco Construction has been appointed as contractor for the project and work to prepare the site for construction is already underway, including demolition of old buildings that would not form part of the new school.

The school is expected to be complete and start accepting pupils on a phased timetable from Autumn 2021, reaching full capacity in the following years.

Admissions to the new school would be through a referral process based on the assessed requirements of a pupil’s Education and Health Care Plan.

Schools of this type typically cost between £12m and £14m to build.

New primary school for Gayton approved

The planning committee also approved plans to build a new 210 pupil primary school and a 56 place nursery for Gayton,

The new school - part of the county council's multi-million pound investment to support growing communities by building essential school places - will be located on the West Hall Farm site, with access from Spring Vale.

It will consist of 7 classrooms and group rooms, with a central library and resource area, and a multi-purpose hall. The nursery building will provide two children’s rooms, associated WCs and nappy change, along with a shared kitchen area, storage and administration areas.

Graham Middleton, Norfolk County Councillor for Gayton and Nar Valley said: "I'm delighted the committee has approved the plans for this long-awaited and much-needed school. It means that there will be more school places for children in the growing Gayton community and that they'll be learning in some of the most modern classrooms in Norfolk."

Construction is planned to start this summer so that the new school would be open from September 2021. Project costs for schools of this size are typically around £6m.

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