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School expansion plan sparks concern

PUBLISHED: 10:24 28 July 2010 | UPDATED: 14:53 02 August 2010

A GOVERNMENT minister will have the last word on a school expansion plan which has sparked concerns over a loss of playing field area.

A GOVERNMENT minister will have the last word on a school expansion plan which has sparked concerns over a loss of playing field area.

An application has been submitted to build a “special resource base” (SRB) at Wayland High School, on Merton Road in Watton, for young people with special educational needs.

The planned single-storey extension would include two class rooms, two meeting rooms, two store rooms, office and toilet facilities.

But Sport England has objected to the scheme because it would result in a loss of 0.4 acres of the school's 13-acre playing field, with “no compensating benefits to sport”.

Norfolk County Council's planning (regulatory) committee agreed last week that the plan should be approved.

But the Sport England objection means the scheme must first be referred to education secretary Michael Gove before permission can be granted.

A report by the council's director of environment, transport and development says: “There have been no objections to the application, other than from Sport England, who object to the loss of a small area of playing field to the development.

“However, the existing sports playing pitches will remain unaffected and the educational and community benefits of the proposal are considered to be a material consideration which outweighs the loss of the area of playing field.”

The proposed SRB would provide for youngsters with learning difficulties and autistic spectrum disorders, as well as those with behavioural, emotional, language and social difficulties.

The report says it could support up to ten full-time equivalent children in the west of the county.

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