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Council criticised again over new school for children with special educational needs in Sussex

Woodlands Meed school in Burgess Hill Credit: ITV Meridian

West Sussex County Council has been criticised again over its plans to build a new school for children with special educational needs.

Last month, the authority finally committed on a promise first made ten years ago to redevelop Woodlands Meed in Burgess Hill.

It's however revealed a full building plan for the £20 million project won't be put out until May at the earliest.

After years of distrust, campaigners say that's unacceptable and are urging the authority to get on with the construction work as soon as possible.

The 'Complete Woodlands Meed School' group insists it will not let the council off the hook until the bricks start being laid.

The toilet for pupils in wheelchairs is outside in the playground Credit: ITV Meridian

At a council committee on Wednesday morning, the authority said they are firming down access to land which neighbours the school site, which they will need to use for construction workers.

Councillor Nigel Jupp, who looks after education and skills at West Sussex County Council, said regular meetings and discussions are happening behind the scenes to move the Woodlands Meed redevelopment forward.

Councillor Nigel Jupp confirming a new £20 million school at a council meeting in February Credit: West Sussex County Council web stream

“I know this project has had a sticky past. It is the will of the council to see the project through successfully. You will have to trust us.”

– Councillor Nigel Jupp, cabinet member for education and skills
Woodlands Meed is split into two sites in Burgess Hill

Woodlands Meed school is split with two sites.

One for its younger pupils who are in a brand new building on the school site.

On the college site, its 14-19 year olds are currently being taught in portacabin classrooms which the authority has previously said were not 'fit-for-purpose'.

A further statement from a West Sussex County Council spokesperson said,

“Up to £20m has now been allocated in the Capital Programme for the rebuilding of Woodlands Meed College, subject to a suitable business case. This business case will look at how we make the best use of the money available to meet the needs of pupils at the school. In order to allow time to complete feasibility work for the project, we estimate a decision will be made in May.

"We are working closely with the school’s Chair of Governors and Headteacher and the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills had a positive update meeting with them last week. The first joint meeting between council officers and the college is due to take place next week and further meetings will be scheduled during the rest of the year. The anticipated completion date of the project is 2023 assuming all third party approvals are agreed.”

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