First look at new special secondary school near Higham Ferrers

The school was originally supposed to open this year but has been delayed

By Sarah Ward
Tuesday, 9th June 2020, 2:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th June 2020, 2:48 pm
The school will feature two one storey wings and a central two storey hall building.

A long awaited special secondary school just outside Higham Ferrers is coming forward.

East Northants Council’s planning committee is expected to approve the plans put forward by the Department of Education for the 145-place Chelveston Road School off the B645.

The free school, which will be run by the Friars Multi Academy Trust, was first announced in 2018 and was originally due to open this year, but has stalled because of problems finding a location.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

There will be 15 drop off and collection points.

The news it is now moving forward will be much welcomed by families with special needs children in the area as well as education planners.

Education officer Gwyn Botterill said last month there was a ‘perfect storm’ brewing as the need for special school places in Northants is over capacity and many children are having to be sent to other counties to be educated at high costs to the local education authority.

The plans that are going before the planning authority reveal that the building will be sited on greenfield land close to the existing Moulton College and be built on part of the existing football pitches currently used by Higham Ferrers Town Football Club. A new pitch will be built for the football club.

The school will be brick built and include two long one-storey wings with a two-storey hall in the centre.

A side view of the planned new school.

There will be 15 drop off and collection bays and 90 car parking spaces on site.

However the school plan does fall outside of local planning policy by being in open countryside. Policy 11 of the North Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy 2016 states that new development should be within the urban areas of existing development. Planning officers have said however that an exception could be considered because the new school could be argued to be an extension to the existing Moulton College site. It also says there are no other suitable, available sites for the school in the area.

There is also a concern with the proposed site being off the busy B645, which is a red route due to the number of accidents on the stretch of road. The response from the local highways authority to the application says that despite being a B road Chelveston Road is part of the major road network and has more traffic than some A roads in the county.

The LHA says road safety measures must be put in place if the school is built.

It says: “This stretch of Chelveston Road has suffered numerous accidents on it already and with the increase of traffic stopping to turn right there is potential for these number to increase. CV is classed as a casualty reduction route and therefore we would require a physical island (illuminated bollards included) within the hatched area of the right turn arrangement to act as a traffic calming measures.”

The planning officers have recommended the scheme is approved and councillors will decide tomorrow (June 10) at 7pm. The meeting can be watched online.