New £10m special school to be built in Derbyshire

An artist's impression of how the new school in Alfreton will look.
An artist's impression of how the new school in Alfreton will look.

Plans to build a £10 million new special school in Derbyshire have been approved.

The application, submitted by Derbyshire County Council, will now see a new Alfreton Park Community Special School built off Wingfield Road.

It would double the capacity of the current site – which currently does not have the space to meet the needs of its pupils.

Councillors on the county council’s planning committee unanimously approved the plans on Monday.

Coun Paul Smith said: “I really welcome this application. It is really well thought out and I think the investment being made is commendable.

“It whole area will benefit. It is a good job done.

“I’m sure it will bring many benefits to young people for many years.”

At the moment, the school for children with special educational needs has 84 students enrolled.

However, its capacity is 45-50, meaning pupils and staff currently have less space than required.

This is in part due to the shortage of storage space for dozens of wheelchairs, a prime example of the kind of issue facing the school.

The new school, on an adjacent area of land known as Highfield Plantation, would have a capacity of 105 pupils.

Pupils at the school are aged between two and 19 and would have a variety of special educational needs. including autism, learning and communication difficulties, hearing and visual impairments and other complex behaviours.

As part of the scheme, the existing school and a public adventure playground would be demolished.

The current school site would then become the location of a replacement public adventure playground.

Demolition of the current school will only take place once the new building is up and running, to prevent any disruption to pupils.

Construction is expected to take two years. This will mean there will be no community park on the site for two years while the current one is demolished and the new one rebuilt.

As part of the new school site there would also be a multi-use games area.

This would be open for public use from 4pm until 9.30pm Monday through Friday and 9am until 6pm on weekends and bank holidays.

Alfreton Town Council has asked for public toilets to be installed at Alfreton Park as part of the scheme, and the potential increase in footfall in the area.

However, county council officers said this was “not considered reasonable or necessary” and had not formed part of the proposals.

Some residents had feared that the building of the new school on Highfield Plantation would prevent it being used as a temporary parking site for large events.

Council officers said it could be a condition of the application that the area of the field not used by the school would remain in use for community events.

They also said that community events could make use of the parking at the new school.

The single-storey replacement school would have an internal floorspace of 2,986 square metres, including 15 classrooms, six group rooms and a combined hall and dining area.

Each classroom would have its own storage area for mobility equipment.

It is intended that pupils could park the equipment they use to get to school in these areas and swap them out for those they use in school.

Nine new members of staff would be hired as part of the development, taking the overall number of employees to 76.

The number of parking spaces would increase from 38 to 118, including spots for disabled users and minibuses.