Cabins could house new school if planners agree

Applicants put forward this photograph to illustrate the cabins planned for new school at Wilburton

Applicants put forward this photograph to illustrate the cabins planned for new school at Wilburton - Credit: ECDC

Described as “education ready”, a school for children with autism could open in 2021 and housed in four wooden cabins at Wilburton 

Fiona D’Arcy has put in a planning application to East Cambridgeshire District Council to site the cabins at Twentypence Road on a 2.5-acre field. 

She says the field was previously used by The Phoenix School as a playing field. The former independent school was based at Willow Tree cottage nearby and the field used for a variety of activities.  

"The school closed in 2018 and Willow Tree cottage was sold with a change to residential use in August 2020,” she says.  

“The proposed field site continues to be designated for educational use.” 

Ms D’Arcy says the backers are Hope Tree School Ltd (a non-profit organisation).  

The proposal is for a small independent school (30 children) between the ages of 7 and 14.  

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“The school is designed to meet the needs of children with autism,” she says. 

And more specifically for those children who have sensory difficulties and are unable to access the curriculum within a mainstream setting and need access to an outdoor curriculum.  

Phase one will include placing four education ready portacabins on the field. 

Water, a septic tank and mains electric will also be placed on site “alongside extensive replenishment of existing hedging, some wooden fencing to ensure security of the site, a small woodland copse area and appropriate play equipment using natural materials”.  

The site will have a sports area, a vegetable garden and aim to be 'single use plastic' free.  

Ms D’Arcy says that at a later phase and when funds allowed, they would hope to replace the temporary portacabins with permanent modular buildings. 

Access would remain as it was previously using the main gated entrance, a driveway and parking area will be created using recycled plastic grasscrete, filled with soil and grass seed. Rain water barrels will be used on each of the cabins to aid with recycling. 

The school plans to open in June 202, she says. It is likely that there will be four children in the first cohort. 

In September 2021 the aim is to take an additional four children and to have in place by September 2022, 12 children. 

"Following this we will take an additional four children per year until we reach our maximum of 30 children,” says Ms D’Arcy.