An architect could be appointed next month to draw up plans to expand Woodlands Meed School in Burgess Hill.
Parents, governors and school staff have spent years campaigning for a permanent college building as temporary huts are currently used to teach the older students.
Much to the delight of everyone at the special school West Sussex County Council announced last month it had earmarked £20million for the project West Sussex County Council announced last month it had earmarked £20million for the project, with September 2021 the target date for completion.
The council is now looking for expressions of interests from architects to design the new buildings and has approached six firms with experience in the special educational needs sector.
The deadline is Friday (March 15). A shortlist of three will then be produced, with those chosen asked to meet with officers to discuss their initial concepts for the school.
The council is looking to appoint the successful architect by the end of April.
Members of West Sussex County Council’s Central and South Mid Sussex County Local Committee were given an update on the project last night (Tuesday March 12).
They were told the new buildings would be designed around the curriculum and would ‘not be a bog standard school but something that is right for the Woodlands Meed community’.
A public information event will be held before a planning application is submitted so parents and the community can look at the plans and give feedback.
Richard Burrett, cabinet member for education and skills at the county council, said: “Everything is progressing according to plan and there’s no reason to think it will not be up and running by September 2021.
“In the next few months you will not see an awful lot of things happening as it will all be behind the scenes.
“Please do not think we are not moving full steam ahead.”
Officers described how it was important they took the time at this stage ‘to make sure the design is right’.
Pete Bradbury (Con, Cuckfield and Lucastes), chairman of the committee, said: “This has every sign of turning into a success story.”
Meanwhile Anne Jones (Con, Burgess Hill East) described the project as the ‘most amazing journey’ and hoped the completed school would be a ‘jewel in the crown’.