New North Somerset Special School Wins Unanimous Planning Approval

New North Somerset Special School Wins Unanimous Planning Approval

Proposals to build North Somerset’s first specialist school for students with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs have won unanimous support from planners.

North Somerset Council’s Planning and Regulatory Committee voted today (Wednesday) to approve an application to build the new Lime Hills Academy at Ladymead Lane in Langford.

It will be the district’s first permanent SEMH school, as the current Lime Hills Academy is operating from temporary buildings in Nailsea – and is struggling to meet the ‘urgent’ demand for its specialist provision from across North Somerset.

The new site will enable Lime Hills – part of the Cabot Learning Federation – to more than double its capacity from 29 to 65 students, aged 5-16. For many, this will mean a welcome end to hours-long daily journeys to specialist schools outside of the district.

Lis Jolley, Headteacher of Lime Hills Academy, said: “Lime Hills urgently needs a permanent home which will allow an increase in student numbers.

“At present, vulnerable children can find themselves ‘stuck’ in inappropriate provision or travelling hours every day to school because places at Lime Hills cannot be made available.

“But every child deserves the opportunity to be taught appropriately and to reach their potential within their own community, in a safe environment suitable to their needs. Without this, children can feel misunderstood and rejected by the system and excluded from their communities.

“This multi-million-pound Department for Education investment will provide a purpose-built, modern and welcoming school with impressive sustainability credentials for the communities of Churchill and Langford to share and use.

“By working together, it is possible to deliver a school and a site the local community can be truly proud of.”

The two-storey development will include specially-designed teaching rooms, plus sports and dining halls. The site will also feature sports pitches, outdoor play space, and dedicated parking and drop-off areas to minimise traffic impact on nearby roads.

North Somerset Council planning officers said: “A lack of SEND school facilities and places both locally and nationally means the need for a new SEND SEMH school is substantial.

“There is currently a significant shortfall in SEND provision in North Somerset, which means the local authority is required to send children to neighbouring districts to meet their special education needs. The length of journeys and absence of local provision can have a negative impact on behaviour, anxiety, and outcomes for the pupils concerned.

“The proposed SEND school will allow the children to be educated locally, reducing travel costs and improving educational and social outcomes.”

The application was supported by others throughout the district’s education community.

Justin Humphreys, Chair of Secondary Heads in North Somerset (SHINs), was among those to log formal statements of support with the planning authority.

He said: “The Lime Hills Academy is an essential component within education delivery in North Somerset.

“The number of students within secondary schools in North Somerset reporting significant SEMH needs continues to increase, with a number of cases beyond the resources and environment of current schools.

“The specialist provision provides much-needed support for those with acute SEMH needs and we look forward to celebrating the success of the students attending Lime Hills Academy in the future.”

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Lime Hills Academy is proud to be part of the Cabot Learning Federation. 
Registered Company: Cabot Learning Federation
Company No: 06207590