Decision made on future of Peacehaven special needs facility

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Plans to open a new facility for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) in Peacehaven have been approved.

On Monday (December 10), East Sussex County Council’s lead member for education Bob Standley signed off on plans to open an in-school SEN facility at Peacehaven Heights Primary School.

The facility, expected to open in January, is intended to provide specialist teaching for eight to 10 primary school age children with Autism Spectrum Disorder within the school site.

Cllr Standley (Wealden North East) said: “I really welcome this proposal. There were a number of factors that I was obliged to consider, which I have.

“I have also read the Equality Impact Assessment, which I am very happy with. On that basis I am very pleased to approve the recommendation.”

The meeting was also attended by Liberal Democrat councillor Kathryn Field (Battle and Crowhurst), who said: “I think it is an excellent proposal. My only concern is the size of it.

“It doesn’t seem like it could accommodate very many children and I can imagine that once it is up and running there will be huge demand, particularly from parents who are currently paying for provision.”

Cllr Field also asked if the centre would be ‘easily expandable’ should demand increase.

In response, place planning manager Gary Langford said the facility is considered to be of ‘a suitable size’ for a mainstream school but said it may be possible to fit ‘one or two’ additional pupils on to the roll.

Any more pupils would require either an expansion or an alternative facility, Mr Langford said.

He also said the Peacehaven facility would be one of a number of other similar centres the council plans to open in the near future.

The other centres – all of a similar size – are expected to be opened in Hailsham and Hastings, with the possibility of an additional centre to be opened in Battle, Mr Langford said.

The Hailsham centre is expected to be opened at Grovelands Primary School, although the proposals will not go out for statutory consultation until an appropriate space can be built on the school site.

Huw Oxburgh, Local Democracy Reporting Service