Special school proposals for Wetheringsett Manor
A rural Mid Suffolk landmark could be getting a new lease of life as a special school.
The NFA Group has submitted proposals to convert the Grade II Listed Wetheringsett Manor into a school that will educate 54 youngsters with special educational needs.
The plans propose to change the manor building – which is currently used as offices and temporary accommodation for charity Serving in Mission – the cottage, former stables and two modern industrial buildings.
Education chiefs at Suffolk County Council admitted that demand for specialist places was increasing by around 18 per cent, which prompted a new £45 million plan to create more than 800 extra spaces at new and existing schools.
But the council has confirmed that while it does commission some specialist placements at schools run by NFA Group’s company Acorn Care and Education, the latest development had not been commissioned by the authority.
The planning statement prepared by Cheffins on behalf of the developers said: “In devising this application due regard has been given to address the acute need within Suffolk for schools to meet special educational needs, which this facility along with others is seeking to meet.”
It said that the proposal sought to 'protect the character and appearance of Wetheringsett Manor' and proposed 'very little in the way of internal and external alterations'.
The report said there was 'clearly a significant need for this type of facility within Suffolk' and the plans would create 'significant economic benefits'. The school will cater for 54 youngsters aged 11 to 19, and operate a teaching day of 8.45am to 3.15pm.
It has been confirmed that it will not be a boarding school but pupils will arrive by minibus and taxi from a maximum travel distance of an hour’s drive.
The application is currently open for public consultation and will go to planning committee in May or June.
A spokesman from the NFA Group has been approached for comment.