'Crucial' SEND school plans deferred over road concerns

An indicative CGI image of what the new free special school near Woodbridge Road in Ipswich could look like

An indicative CGI image of what the new free special school near Woodbridge Road in Ipswich could look like - Credit: Department for Education

Road access concerns have delayed a decision on building a new 60-place special educational needs school in Ipswich.

Ipswich Borough Council's planning committee had been recommended to approve the plans at the former BT depot site on Russet Road.

The committee deferred the decision to gather details around whether the road can be adopted and access arrangements are stringent enough.

Members want to consider if road access from Woodbridge Road is possible and whether solar panels could be installed on the roof of the new school as part of sustainable energy measures.

Councillor Carole Jones said the school use for the site was welcome but having an adopted access road was “absolutely crucial”.

She said: “The travel plan issue has not been resolved, it’s still a work in progress. It is clear the applicant needs to wok on this and present something that is acceptable and workable.

“Everybody wants this school but we have got to be satisfied it can function.”

The school, currently known as Woodbridge Road Academy, application was submitted by the Department for Education and Bowmer and Kirkland Ltd. 

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Russet Road has not been adopted by Suffolk County Council, meaning enforcement of poor parking there could be an issue, while vehicles at the start and end of the school day could cause traffic problems.

The developers have confirmed that access would be created from Woodbridge Road for the purposes of construction traffic but not once the school is open.

The school will feature a main two-storey school 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.

Councillor Sam Murray, who opposed deferring a decision, said: “We desperately need this school in Ipswich,” adding that the “security is reassuringly considered”.

The site allocations plan for Ipswich has the land listed for housing, but planning officers said there had been plenty of time for housing applications to come forward which had not happened.

It is now listed for a school site in the emerging local plan.

The developers’ application said it would meet the needs of youngsters with complex communication, sensory and emotional needs.

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