'Relief' after SEND school plans win unanimous backing

Artist images of Woodbridge Road Academy

The new special education needs school will offer 60 places for pupils aged 9-16 - Credit: Lena O'Shea

A new school for 60 pupils with special education needs in Ipswich has taken another step forward to open next autumn after securing planning permission. 

Ipswich Borough Council's planning committee voted unanimously for the plans for the proposed Woodbridge Road Academy, which will be built on the old BT depot site in Russet Road, just off Woodbridge Road.

The committee had deferred the decision so a site visit could be carried out to address road access concerns.

The school plans to begin construction works in the spring and open in September 2022 in temporary accommodation.

The school announced its first headteacher Naomi Shenton at the start of this month who shared her relief and excitement the school build would progress.

Naomi Shenton is excited to take on the role as principal

Naomi Shenton has been appointed principal of Woodbridge Road Academy - Credit: Lena O'Shea

Mrs Shenton said: "This will be a really important provision. We have got 60 places available so that we can really support 60 pupils and their families, and we are really keen to work together with families to make the biggest difference we can to pupils and their life chances.

“Now we have got planning permission we will go back to our construction team for an updated timescale and we are hoping that works will start in spring 2022."

Questions had been raised previously over the Russet Road access, as it is currently a private road which means the double yellow lines cannot be enforced to the same degree.

There had also been requests to investigate a possible access directly off Woodbridge Road, as well as securing solar panels on the school roof.

Artist image of Woodbridge Road Academy

Woodbridge Road Academy is proposed to be built on a vacant site on Woodbridge Rd, Ipswich - Credit: Lena O’Shea

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The planning meeting heard that an access directly to Woodbridge Road had been ruled out because it was felt it could cause more problems, while it is understood Suffolk County Council is looking to adopt Russet Road that will mean it can be maintained and enforced properly.

Councillor John Cook said councillors were ‘reassured having seen the physical dimensions of Russet Road’.

He added: “We know that a school of this kind is badly needed – there are limited sites for it and I am wholeheartedly in support of progressing this.”

Artist images of Woodbridge Road Academy

The new special education needs school will offer 60 places for pupils aged 9-16 - Credit: Lena O'Shea

The school will feature a main two-storey building, multi-use games area, outdoor dining and social spaces, 43-space car park, and drop-off and pick-up space.

It will cater for up to 60 SEND pupils aged between nine and 16, with 30 staff.

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