Decision expected on Russet Road special school plans

An application to build a school on the former BT depot site near Woodbridge Road in Ipswich

An application to build a school on the former BT depot site near Woodbridge Road in Ipswich has been submitted to the council - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Planning officers have recommended approval be given to build a special educational needs (SEN) school at the former BT depot site on Russet Road in Ipswich. 

Ipswich Borough Council's planning and development control committee is due to meet on Wednesday November 17 to decide if the proposal should go ahead, with a report from planning officers recommending approval. 

In the event the plans are approved, a number of conditions are also recommended.

Officers said a Construction Management Plan should be in place before development commences, details of a walking and cycling route to Woodbridge Road should be worked out and recommendations given by the biodiversity and contaminated land reports should be adhered to. 

The Department for Education put forward the application in summer for a 60-place SEN school that would accommodate children between the ages of nine and 16. 

The plans for the two-storey building included 12 teaching rooms and dining and sports halls. 

On-site soft play areas, a hard playground and horticultural areas for learning are also provided. 

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A pre-application found no objections from the county council amid an "urgent requirement" for SEN schools across the area. 

And the planning officer report for the November 17 meeting states: "The proposal would meet an identified need for not only Ipswich but the wider area." 

This would include increasing school places, redeveloping a brownfield site into something more attractive and generating employment in construction and teaching sectors. 

The land was sold to the Education Funding Agency in 2016. 

Prior to that, permission had been granted for the construction of 39 homes on the site that been occupied by BT in the 1980s and 90s. 

Planning consultants Nexus Planning said the proposal will bring various benefits to the town. 

In a planning statement, the firm said: "The proposed new building will create much needed special education facilities, provide a new school for young people with special needs and meet the identified need for a SEN school spaces. 

"Sustainability would be at the heart of the proposals, with energy reduction measures implemented throughout and the significant introduction of new landscaping to improve the appearance of the site and its biodiversity."