Alternative site considered for new Burgess Hill special school college buildings

An alternative site for new college buildings for a Burgess Hill special school is being considered.

Friday, 18th September 2020, 11:30 am
Updated Friday, 18th September 2020, 5:34 pm
Woodlands Meed College. Pic Steve Robards SR20021703 SUS-200217-165155001

Back in May, West Sussex County Council agreed to £20million to rebuild Woodlands Meed College on its existing playing field off Birchwood Grove Road.

The special school desperately needs purpose built facilities for its older students as the current modular buildings are old and inadequate.

The project’s design team is now working on designs and specifications for the new building as well as the sports facilities and outside areas, ahead of submitting a planning application, expected to be made in mid November.

The land off Jane Murray Way

Alongside this, the county council has now approved funding for a piece of work to also look at an alternative vacant site off Jane Murray Way near St Paul’s Catholic College on the other side of town.

This follows a request from Woodlands Meed’s governors and headteacher as the site is less constrained than the playing field site.

The feasibility report study will look into whether this would better meet the needs of students now and in the future.

Nigel Jupp, cabinet member for education and skills, said: “We are committed to improving the facilities for all the college’s students at Woodlands Meed. This additional work to explore an alternative site will take place in parallel with the preparatory work that is ongoing to rebuild the college on the its existing playing field and additional funds have been allocated. It will, therefore, not impact on the timeline for that work.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the college’s governors and headteacher to deliver, as soon as is possible, a new building that provides a safe and happy learning environment for all its pupils and staff.”

According to an officers’ report it has become clear that, whilst not insurmountable, various issues pose challenges to the delivery of a new building on the playing field site due to constraints and location.

These include:

• Potential conflict between contractors’ vehicles and pupils, staff and parents of both Woodlands Meed and the adjoining Birchwood Grove Primary School

• Access to the site by contractors’ vehicles will cause disruption to local residents

• Disruption to pupils and staff of Woodlands Meed College and Birchwood Grove Primary School during the 21 month construction works

• Construction challenges to the design and layout of the building due to significant level differences across site and the restricted access for contractors’ vehicles.

• The topography and size of the site drives a layout that is not ideal for a Special School that is intended to meet the educational needs of its pupils