Plans to change Horsham office into a school for children with special needs approved
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The application for Vincent House, in North Parade, was given a unanimous thumbs-up by the planning committee on Tuesday (February 6).
The school will be classed as an independent non-maintained school, outside the control of the Local Education Authority, meaning the county council will have no say in its running.
Instead, it will be run by The Aurora Group, which has a number of other such schools across the country.
As well as the change of use from office to school, the application also seeks permission to build a Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) and a two-storey link between the main building and an out-building.
The council heard concerns from residents about noise, the extra traffic the school might generate, light pollution, and what they felt was contradictory data about when the MUGA would be in use.
A representative from The Aurora Group confirmed that the MUGA would only be used during school hours – 8.30am to 3.30pm – and would not be opened up to anyone else.
It was agreed that this would be reflected in a condition added to the planning permission.
The representative said it was his ‘personal regret’ that neighbours had not been consulted before the planning application was submitted.
He added that work had been carried out to try to address the concerns raised.
These include moving an acoustic fence further onto the school site to make sure hedges currently running around the edge of the land could be retained.
And plans to prune back a weeping beech tree were also dropped.
As for the concerns about traffic, members were told that most of the children would be driven to school by minibus.
In a design statement submitted with the application, a spokesman for The Aurora Group said: “Our mission is to provide innovative, high quality education, care and support, enabling all children and young people to thrive and fulfil their aspirations.”
To view the application, log on to public-access.horsham.gov.uk and search for DC/23/1566.