New special education school set for approval from Thurrock Council

By Local Democracy Reporter
Steve Shaw

THURROCK could soon get a new school for children with special educational needs after planning officers recommended that a new school in Grays is granted planning permission.

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If plans for the Treetops Free School on Buxton Road in Grays are approved, they will create 140 new primary and secondary school places for children with moderate learning difficulties and on the autistic spectrum.

It will be built next to the existing Treetops Academy and the two schools will operate together as a single campus. It will include six primary school classrooms, eight secondary school classrooms, a library, facilities for art, design, music and science, and a dining room.

The council’s planning officers have said the plans should be granted planning permission during the council’s next planning committee due to be held on October 23.

They note in a report that the school will be partly built on green belt land but it should still be approved because it will address a shortage of specialist school places in the borough. Its proximity to the existing academy will also allow school staff and resources to be shared.

However, due to the green belt element of the scheme, the secretary of state will be required to give a final sign off.

Residents have raised a number of objections over the impact a new school will have on parking and traffic in the area and the council notes that 98 per cent of the existing Treetops pupils travel to school by a dedicated minibus or car and 89 per cent of staff also travel by car.

To address the potential issues caused by a second school, the plans also include a new car park which will be created at the front of the building.

Additionally, the council’s planning officers have said: “During the construction phase of the existing Treetops and Beacon Hill schools, temporary access was taken from Stanford Road using a left-in and left-out arrangement.

“It is recommended that a similar arrangement is used during the construction phase in order to avoid HGV movement on residential roads.”

Treetops is set to be one of three new free schools built in Thurrock in the coming years. Orsett Heath Secondary and Thames Park Secondary are both at different stages of development and are expected to bring more than a thousand extra places.

Councillor James Halden, who oversees education in the borough, said: “With a 24 per cent rise in special school applications, and a 35 per cent rise in education and health care plans over five years, the need here is clear.

“This is circa £20million investment in 21st century services and we need to make sure we deliver and don’t run the risk of letting these children down and losing this investment.”

The planning committee meeting will be held on October 23 at the Civic offices in Grays.

Categories: Education Planning Permission
Authorities: Thurrock Council

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