Council claims design of school 'appears prison like and basic'

Aerial view visual of new Wisbech school

Aerial view visual of new Wisbech school - Credit: CCC

Parish councillors claim the design of a new SEMH school (for pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs) “appear prison like and basic”.  

They also accuse Cambridgeshire County Council of planning to build it in “completely the wrong place”. 

Wisbech St Mary parish council is opposing the application for the Horizons Trust 60-pupil SEMH school on county council owned land off Barton Road.  

“Wisbech deserves to be a centre of excellence and the original drawings of what this school will look like appear prison like and basic,” says the parish council. 

“It doesn’t take from its rural aesthetics and stands out like a sore thumb.” 

Horizons Education Trust moving from Algores Way, Wisbech, to a new building will deliver “an exemplary level of service and will help them prepare their students for adulthood.  

“This design seeks to create a school which is capable of nurturing pupils in a safe, uplifting and welcoming environment.” 

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Originally the site was also going to provide a new secondary school as part of a Fenland Education Campus. 

The parish council says Wisbech St. Mary starts on Barton Road “and will obviously be affected by any significant changes along that will increase traffic movements”.  

The council says it does not oppose the principle of any new school, provided it is in the right place. 

“The parish council are concerned that allowing the SEMH school to go ahead will increase the chances of the secondary school being placed there,” it says.

Visual of new Wisbech school

Visual of new Wisbech school - Credit: CCC

Infrastructure is a major issue. 

“Any increase in traffic will cause chaos,” says the council.  

The council believes Wisbech St. Mary and Guyhirn will be used as rat runs “and there are speeding issues in these villages currently, without any extra travel movements.  

“Even before a single student enters the building, what chaos will it bring?  

Visual of new Wisbech school

Visual of new Wisbech school - Credit: CCC

“The road is not suitable for constant site movements of construction traffic.” 

The project includes the creation of a new access off Barton Road, footpath improvements to Barton Road and minor alteration to The Still at the junction with Barton Road.  

Site of new Wisbech school

Site of new Wisbech school - Credit: CCC

The site is currently occupied by a tenanted farmhouse and an arable field. 

Wisbech Town Council says it supports the new school. 

It wants an assurance, however, that the proposal would not have an “adverse effect upon the access to the town council’s allotment site at The Still”.