Green light given for Bloxham special educational needs school

Bloxham Grove and A361 junction will see changes
Bloxham Grove and A361 junction will see changes

Cherwell District Council have approved plans for the construction of a 100-pupil special educational needs school near Bloxham's Warriner School.

The council’s planning committee approved the proposals at its meeting on Thursday, September 19.

The school is part of a wider package of measures to increase the number of special educational needs school places in Oxfordshire, agreed by Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet in December 2018.

It would contribute to wider plans to address the current shortage of special educational needs places across the county, which leads to children having to travel significant distances to schools. This situation is replicated elsewhere in England.

Cllr Colin Clarke, Cherwell’s lead member for planning, said: “There’s a clear need for special educational needs places here in Cherwell, elsewhere in Oxfordshire and across the country.

"This approval contributes to helping with that situation and the additional educational provision contributes to infrastructure needed to support growth in the district.

“We have paid close attention to local people who kindly responded with comments and observations and a great deal of work has gone in to ensuring the traffic impacts on the local area are thoroughly assessed and mitigated.”

Lucy Butler, director for children’s services at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “This new facility will be one of three in the county that are part of our plans to improve and increase special educational needs provision; the other two are in Didcot and at Northfield School in Oxford.

“A great deal of work has gone in to shaping this application with Cherwell District Council. We are delighted permission has been granted and look forward to the school coming on stream once built.”

The school will be a predominantly two-storey, but part one-storey building with new access from Bloxham Grove Road, associated outdoor play areas, multi-use games area, staff parking, pupil drop-off and landscaping.

As well as having capacity for up to 100 pupils it would be designed to accommodate up to 60 members of staff.

As part of the proposal, work would be undertaken to Bloxham Grove Road. This would include widening the road, formalising the parking layby and providing a new footway from the entrance to the Warriner School to the entrance of the proposed school.

Work around the school will also include the widening of the A361 road and the creation of new right turning lanes on the same road into Bloxham Grove Road and Ells Lane.

It was the issue of student safety and additional road traffic which had caused the committee to refuse a previous bid until acceptable road safety measures had been addressed.

In addition the existing 30mph limit on Bloxham Grove Road would be moved to the east of the new access.

The new arrangements have been fully assessed using modelling and are considered acceptable by the Oxfordshire County Council as the local highway authority.

It would be operated by The Gallery Trust which also operates the Iffley Academy, a special academy in Oxford for a similar age group with complex needs and is judged as outstanding by Ofsted.