New Blackpool school hopes to open in 2020

A bid to build a new school in Blackpool is a step closer after plans for the scheme were submitted to the council.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 6th November 2018, 9:12 am
Updated Wednesday, 7th November 2018, 2:46 am
An artist's impression of the Lotus School
An artist's impression of the Lotus School

A bid to build a new school in Blackpool is a step closer after plans for the scheme were submitted to the council.

As revealed earlier this year, a 48-place school for children with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs is to be built on a vacant plot of land on Langdale Road at Mereside.

Called The Lotus School, it will save the authority hundreds of thousands of pounds a year which is currently spent on sending challenging pupils to schools outside the borough.

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A design brief by architects Cassidy and Ashton says the new building will be "a vibrant educational facility" constructed over two floors.

There will be classrooms on both floors, along with a science lab, school hall and specialist therapy and sensory rooms.

Coun Kath Benson, Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning said: "The brand new, purpose-built facility will provide high-quality care and education for the growing number of children in our town who have special educational needs, closer to their homes.

"It will reduce the long distances that children have to travel to independent special schools out of the borough, and therefore, the time they spend away from their home and community.

"I look forward to seeing progress being made to build the new school, with the aim being that it welcomes its first pupils in 2020.”

Currently Blackpool does not have specialist provision for SEMH pupils, with youngsters transported instead to 16 independent special schools outside the town.

Around 66 pupils are sent out of the area, commuting for 40 to 50 minutes each way every day and costing the council between £23,000 and £50,000 a year each.

By contrast, the annual cost of each place in the new school is expected to be around £22,000.

The number of children needing special places is expected to grow to 825 by 2020, compared to 513 in 2012.

Documents submitted with the application say: "The out of borough independent schools cater for the diverse needs of pupils, but do not provide links to the Blackpool local community.

"Therefore the transition back to the area once school pacements end can be turbulent and often are unsuccessful.

"It would be preferable to reduce the number of pupils travelling out of the borough."

The application will go before town hall planners at a future date.