£20m allocated for Woodlands Meed college building plans

Woodlands Meed School
Woodlands Meed School

Months of hard work to aquire funding for a new Woodlands Meed college has paid off.

Today, (February 15), the Middy can reveal that £20million has been allocated for a new college building to be built.

Parents, governors and school staff have long campaigned for a permanent college to be built but, up until now, officials have not made money available for the project.

At a full council meeting today, it was agreed that up to £20m of funding would be allocated within the council’s Capital Programme to rebuild and expand the college on the existing Birchwood Grove Site.

A spokesman for Woodlands Meed said: “Strong collaborative work between West Sussex County Council and the Governing Body of Woodlands Meed special school in Burgess Hill has helped move a new college building a significant step closer.

“Woodlands Meed is a special school and college offering individualised care and learning for over 250 pupils aged 2-19 across two sites.

“The current college building on the Birchwood Grove site has a number of suitability issues. It means some of the 15-19 year olds taught there have to go off-site to other schools for some lessons.

“Over many months a huge amount of joint work has been going on behind the scenes to find a solution.

“A feasibility study last summer looked at a number of options and it was agreed that plans to create a new build college with sports hall on the same site would be progressed.”

Richard Burrett, cabinet member for education and skills, said the funding was a ‘major step forward’ and ‘underlines the county council’s firm commitment to creating a learning environment that meets the current and future needs of pupils at Woodlands Meed’.

He added: “I know parents and pupils have been eagerly anticipating news on the college site and a key part of getting to this exciting stage has been the excellent joint work with the school’s Governing Body.

“We look forward to continuing this work and engaging with pupils, parents and staff as we progress the project, with the aim of opening the new building in September 2021.”

Earlier this week Mr Burrett gave the go-ahead for £0.5m of council funds to be spent on producing costed designs.

The project is in line with the council’s SEND Strategy 2016-2019, which aims to provide high quality education provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities whilst providing value for money.

A representative of the Governors said: “We are delighted that we are on track to deliver the new college building by September 2021, and that all the hard work by Governors and West Sussex County Council officers is coming to fruition.

“In anticipation of this decision we had already started work on the concept design, listening to pupils and staff. 

“Our pupils have a clear and realistic idea of what they need in the new building and we are looking forward with enthusiasm to working collaboratively to deliver it.”

Work will now start on the appointment of the design team to produce initial designs ready for wider consultation, the school said.

Parents and carers will be fully updated on the building’s progress on the school website: www.woodlandsmeed.co.uk

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