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Costs rocket for new special needs school

July 6, 2021 11:16 AM

Wiltshire Council's plans to make savings on special needs education have taken another battering as the cost of their new school at Rowde has escalated. Here's the WC release:


People will soon be able to have their say on designs to create a new school build for SEND pupils which will provide much needed additional spaces.

The planning application for Silverwood School at its Rowde campus will extend the existing campus to provide a high quality provision for 350 pupils by September 2023 if agreed. A further phase of the programme will deliver 50 more places for Silverwood by September 2024.

The application will be online this month and people will have until the autumn to comment. The proposals include creating a "school within a school" feel with a community of small teaching clusters that will provide a range of specialist teaching spaces, therapeutic support, and quiet dining. There will also be a hydrotherapy pool, a new all-weather sport pitch, new playing fields, landscaping, and ecological enhancements.

The designs have been shaped by feedback from a series of workshops with the school community, local people, families and staff. There have also been general online meetings for people to share their thoughts on early designs. Now will be the opportunity to review the detailed plans in the application.

This month Wiltshire Council's cabinet will also be asked to agree additional funding for the costs of the build should planning permission be given.

The request is for an additional £5.3m to meet rising costs in materials in the construction market but also to address the unique nature of the site to protect its biodiversity and in particular a very rare species of bat which has only recently been identified (sic - they mean the presence of the bat on site). Appropriate mitigation has increased the costs to approximately £38m.

Councillors are being asked to use the funds in the capital schemes budget to meet the costs. Silverwood school is based across three sites at Rowde, Trowbridge and Chippenham.