The Leagrave Centre, Luton, is set to be turned into a special educational needs (SEN) school, following planning approval by Luton Borough Council.

Applicant Luton Borough Council submitted plans to convert and change the use of the Strangers Way site from its current use as a conference and training venue to an educational facility.

Planning officer Abi Chapman told Luton Borough Council’s development management committee: “There are few external changes as this premises was purposely built as a school. Five classrooms are proposed for 40 students, with 20 staff.

“A one-way system will operate, with parking for 58 vehicles and six minibus spaces. This is an extension to the Lady Zia Wernher School in Ashcroft Road.

“The conference centre can cater for 174 delegates, so this use is less intensive. Leagrave Primary School objected on highways safety grounds because of increased traffic movements. It’s considered the volume of traffic won’t cause significant congestion to the detriment of road safety.”

Leagrave Primary School deputy headteacher Debbie Bastin said: “We disagree with the information contained in the travel plan and the transport statement.

“Our school has 450 pupils and more than 60 staff accessing the site each day. We argue it would have a severe impact in Strangers Way, with waste management vehicles, food deliveries and school transport bringing higher levels of noise, disturbance and vehicle fumes. We’re concerned about the position of the proposed entrance and exit points. With yellow zigzags opposite, our parents will have nowhere to drop their children.

“That applies for school assemblies, nativity plays and sports day, adding to their current anxieties and frustrations. A child’s still being treated in hospital for serious injuries after she was run over outside the school. We witness unsafe practice daily, such as vehicles stopping in the middle of the road to let children jump out.

Senior education officer Debbie Craig said: “This is to meet the council’s statutory function of ensuring there are enough school places, special ones in this instance. The first tranche of 40 places are required for September 2023 to avoid a shortfall.”

Education officer David Campbell added: “We’re proposing 128 pupils, far less than the previous models proposed there. All the parking will be self-contained, with coaches or buses bringing the children. We’ll try to deliver a permanent CCTV camera which reassures the school.”

Councillors unanimously approved the development.

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