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Councillors approve £6.8 million renovation plan for ‘excellent’ special needs school in Gosberton

Councillors have approved a £6.8 million renovation plan for a special needs school.

During Lincolnshire County Council’s Children & Young People Scrutiny Committee meeting on Friday (June 14), local representatives discussed a project that would convert Gosberton House Academy, an autism specialist school, into one that can cater to all children with SEND needs.

The scheme includes building a new four-classroom block.

Gosberton House Academy
Gosberton House Academy

Dave Pennington, Head of Property Development at Lincolnshire County Council, explained that two of these classrooms would be used for children with ‘profound and multiple’ learning difficulties, while the other two will be used for general SEND needs.

According to a report from Lincolnshire County Council, the new classrooms and therapy spaces will enable pupils to have their health and therapeutic needs met primarily in the school setting.

The new block will also feature facilities such as a sensory room and a soft-play space.

While the original budget was set at £4.72 million, multiple site constraints, including being in a flood risk area, necessitated an increase in the budget to mitigate these factors.

As the site is also located in a conservation area, which houses dozens of trees with preservation orders, solar panels were not a viable option.

Therefore, the plan also involves upgrading a substation on site, as the current electricity capacity is insufficient.

“It is unfortunate that the site we are dealing with here is very, very complex,” said Mr Pennington during the meeting.

However, he also stressed that this was a positive development, as the council had been ‘prudent’ and had the funding to cover the gap already within the budget for SEND.

Coun Phil Dilks (Independent) questioned if the council had looked at any alternative sites that could have offered better value, considering the site constraints.

“In response, programme manager Eileen McMorrow explained that the project involved the expansion of an existing school and that building a new school in the area would likely have been even more costly for the council.

She later praised the site and the school, calling them ‘excellent’.

Final approval for the project will be subject to Leader Martin Hill (Conservative), with work due to commence in July.

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