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Vulnerable children unit to get go-ahead

PUBLISHED: 13:00 17 October 2008 | UPDATED: 21:32 05 July 2010

A UNIT for vulnerable children in Lowestoft is set to be given planning permission despite nearly 200 objections from local residents.

Although a number of middle and primary schools are being made redundant through the reorganisation of schools in the area, the county council has rejected all these sites and wants to use community playing fields at Saturn Close in the town for the project.

A UNIT for vulnerable children in Lowestoft is set to be given planning permission despite nearly 200 objections from local residents.

Although a number of middle and primary schools are being made redundant through the reorganisation of schools in the area, the county council has rejected all these sites and wants to use community playing fields at Saturn Close in the town for the project.

The current pupil referral unit in School Road, Lowestoft, has been located in temporary buildings since 2004. An attempt last year to redevelop land at Walmer Road and Green Drive for the unit was approved by county planners in January last year, but following a public inquiry, the site was given village green status and could not be used.

New Harbour will support pupils who are unable to attend school on a full-time basis and who need extra support with their education and general well-being. This can be because of long-term illness, school phobia or learning difficulties which can cause them to vulnerable.

The proposed unit will have 24 pupils, who will arrive by shared taxis and dropped off and picked up on site. Twelve teachers and 13 outreach staff would also use the centre.

Objecting to the plans, Waveney district school said the county council “had failed to demonstrate” that the playing field area was surplus to requirements and therefore should provide an alternative. Sport England also objected to the loss of playing fields.

A petition containing 180 signatures and seven separate letters have objected to the plans because of loss of playing fields, an increase in traffic, and loss of residential amenity.

The education authority says it considered redeveloping the buildings of the closed Cookley and Walpole Church of England voluntary controlled primary school near Halesworth, but rejected the site as being too far from Lowestoft.

Elm Tree middle school was found to be unsuitable, Foxborough middle is to become an offshoot of Benjamin Britten high school, Giselham middle is to be used by Carlton Colville primary after the reorganisation, Harris middle is to become the new home of St Margaret's primary and Kirkley, Lothingland, Pakefield, and Roman Hill middle school sites will not become available for redevelopment until September 2011.

In a report to next week's county development control committee, Suffolk's director for environment and transport Lucy Robinson says the education authority “has made every effort to identify an alternative site. While this development would result in the loss of one football pitch, the completion of a community use agreement would contribute towards the total number of pitches available to the public in Lowestoft.”

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