New special school planned for former BT site

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

A new special school could be built on the site of a former BT depot near Woodbridge Road in Ipswich.

The Department for Education (DfE) has applied to Ipswich Borough Council for a 60-place special educational needs (SEND) school to be built in Russet Road, off Bramley Hill.

The school would accommodate children between the ages of nine and 16 with complex communication and interaction difficulties.

It would be part of the Paradigm Academy Trust family of schools, which includes Ipswich Academy and Murrayfield Primary, creating up to 30 full-time jobs.

The school would comprise of a two-storey building, with 12 teaching rooms, as well as dining and sports halls.

The playground would be separated for primary and secondary school pupils, with all ground floor classrooms having access to a hard play area.

It would have on-site soft play areas, as well as horticultural areas to help enrich learning opportunities.

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The school would have 60 parking bays, with vehicular access via Russet Road, off Bramley Hill. Pedestrian access would be via Tydeman Close.

The site has been empty for many years

The site has been empty for many years - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

A pre-application consultation found no objections by the county council, with the county experiencing an "urgent requirement" for SEND schools.

Suggestions to explore pedestrian access via Woodbridge Road were recommended during the consultation period.

News that the site could become a school first surfaced in 2016, when the land was sold to the Education Funding Agency.

Permission had previously been granted for the construction of 39 homes on the 2.4 acre site, although it has remained empty with buildings demolished after BT staff left several years ago.

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."

The Department for Education declined to comment further on the plans.