Crucial school decision this week

THE backers of a £6 million school for autistic children will find out this week if their vision is to get the go-ahead.The Essex Autistic Society is hoping to move to the premises at a former farm site at Eight Ash Green near Colchester.

THE backers of a £6 million school for autistic children will find out this week if their vision is to get the go-ahead.

The Essex Autistic Society is hoping to move to the premises at a former farm site at Eight Ash Green near Colchester.

The group is set to leave its £2 million home at DoucecroftSchool in Kelvedon, for the move to the 4.5-acre location which could house 150 pupils and staff.

There will be spaces for 30 day-pupils and 34 boarders who would stay from Monday to Friday.


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When the plans were unveiled by the society, its chairman, John Sparkes, said it would be a "sign of hope" to families who had autistic children.

However the move, which could make the school the most modern of its type in Europe, is being opposed by Eight Ash Green Parish Council.

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After holding two public meetings the parish council has said it cannot support the application in its present form and called for it to be rejected.

In submissions to planners, the council said there are concerns about the impact of heavier traffic flow and possible future expansion of the school.

It said there are concerns about speeding vehicles and an increased risk of accidents on the nearby Halstead Road, the A1124, and called for traffic calming measures.

The council also said it was totally opposed to plans to fill in a pond at the site and build a car park over it because it had been an "amenity feature" for many generations.

It stated the concerns were critical to minimising the project's impact on the local environment, but said it was, "convinced that with mutual goodwill they can all be resolved".

Officers for Colchester Borough Council have acknowledged the application is controversial because the development is outside urban Colchester and the village envelope of Eight Ash Green.

They have recommended the application should be deferred until traffic calming measures can be agreed as well as an upgrade to the existing bus stop facilities on Halstead Road.

Once completed they have then recommended the planning permission should be granted subject to conditions.

Colchester borough's planning committee will vote on the proposals on Thursdayat Colchester Town Hall.

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