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A school for pupils with special needs will be built in Chipping Barnet UK News

A plan to establish a new school in Chipping Barnet for pupils with special educational needs has been approved by councillors.

Windmill School in Moxon Street will be a free school for pupils aged five to 18 with diagnosed autism spectrum disorder and an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

Due to open in September next year with an initial capacity of 23 pupils, growing to 90 by 2026, it will be the only school kept autism-specific in Barnet.

The plans involve the demolition of part of the existing building, which is currently used for storage and distribution, and several alterations and extensions to create the school. A multi-use playground and a sensory garden will be created on the roof of the building.

There is a growing need in Barnet for special needs education and disability places at primary and secondary level, particularly for people with autism.

The plans were presented to the Strategic Planning Committee of Barnet Council on Wednesday March 23. During a preliminary public consultation on the project, the council received ten objections and five letters of support.

During the meeting, Robin Bishop, chairman of the Barnet Society’s Planning and Environment Committee, spoke against the proposals.

He said the society “would like to have such a school in Barnet” but the committee was “deeply concerned” about this one in particular.

Bishop said the company’s main objection was that the rooftop playground would only be “about 20% of the DfE”. [Department for Education] minimum recommendation for a school of this size”.

He expressed concern that the school would not be able to provide enough play equipment for different age groups or have the resources to allow students access to green spaces at proximity.

But Ian Kingham, director of academy development at Barnet Special Education Trust, urged the committee to back the plans.

He told counselors the school would provide “an autism-specific, predictable and helpful learning environment in which students can thrive and have the best chance for academic success and personal growth.”

In response to the objection, Mr Kingham said the school planned to limit the total number in the play area by allowing different groups of pupils to use it at different times, adding that the school would also use local open spaces such as Monken Hadley Common. .

Asked by advisers, he said the site was the “best viable option” for the school after a thorough search for a suitable location.

Conservative committee member Stephen Sowerby said he was “delighted” that a use had finally been found for the site. He said there had already been “at least three building permits” for apartments on the site, but none of them had been built.

The committee voted unanimously to approve the plans.

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This notice was published: 2022-03-24 13:10:00

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