SUNNINGDALE: Sunderland special school rebuild approved
A multi-million pound project to relocate and rebuild a Sunderland special school has been given the stamp of approval.
Sunningdale Primary School provides for nursery and primary aged children with severe learning difficulties and physical disabilities.
Due to demand for school places and the need for major capital works at its current location at the former Springwell Infant School site, council chiefs recently revealed plans to move the school to the Doxford ward.
More than £13 million has already been earmarked for the scheme, which includes a new purpose-built building at a site near Silksworth Way and Doxford Park Way.
The school will offer 120 places, plus a 16-place nursery provision, and a range of bespoke therapy facilities for pupils.
Sunderland City Council’s capital projects team lodged a planning application for the new build earlier this year.
On Monday (April 26), the plans were recommended for approval at a meeting of the Planning and Highways (East) Committee, which was held via videolink and broadcast on YouTube.
During the meeting, councillors Niall Hodson and Darryl Dixon raised concerns about the traffic demand from the new school and how it would be managed.
This included the potential of queues extending into neighbouring roads and roundabouts during busy periods.
However, council highways bosses reassured councillors that the trips generated and site demand “could all be accommodated within the layout of the site [which] had been designed as such.”
Committee member and Doxford ward councillor, Elizabeth Gibson, welcomed the proposals for the replacement school.
“Sunningdale School has served its purpose but it really needs replacing,” she said.
“We already have the senior school Portland Academy [which] is already in Doxford ward so I think it makes sense to have them both in the same ward and I agree with this application.”
Following discussion, the application was unanimously approved.
When completed, the school site will offer around 56 regular parking spaces and four accessible bays for staff and visitors and electric charging bays for four vehicles.
Meanwhile, cycle-friendly facilities will also be incorporated as part of the development, including secure storage shelters and changing facilities with showers to “encourage use of sustainable commuting.”
Proposed therapy provisions for pupils will range from rebound therapy and hydrotherapy to light and sensory facilities and soft play and each class will have a storage area for mobility equipment.
Informal play and grass playing fields will also be provided across the wider site, alongside a wetlands area, nature trail and habitat area.
A planning report adds the current Sunningdale Primary School is “operating above its physical capacity and it is not possible to place any additional children at the current school.”
The report goes on to say: “Against this backdrop, there is ongoing demand for special educational needs places across the school sector, this includes for children with severe learning difficulties and profound and multiple learning difficulties.
“The host site is allocated for community use in line with this proposal, whilst national planning policy emphasises that a sufficient choice of school places should be available to meet the needs of existing and new communities whilst advising that local planning authorities take a proactive, positive and collaborative approach to meeting this requirement.”
For more information on the application, visit Sunderland City Council’s planning portal and search reference: 21/00038/LP3
Words: Chris Binding, Local Democracy Reporter
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