A special needs school is set to expand after agreeing to take on a grade II listed council building in its town.

The Damara School, in Thetford, has struck a deal to lease the Maltings in the town from Breckland Council.

The deal will allow the school to more than double its pupil capacity from 14 to 32 - at a time when special educational needs places are at a premium in the county.

The agreement comes two-and-a-half years after the independent school, which caters for children with social, emotional and mental health challenges, first opened its doors.

Sandra Govender, chief executive of the Lotus Academy Trust, which runs the school, said: "We are excited that we are able to secure the Maltings for our school.

"We look forward to growing the school to cater for a maximum of 32 children who experience significant difficulties with their social, emotional and mental health."

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Mrs Govender, who is also headteacher of the school, added: "Our vision remains to support every child with therapeutic and holistic education and pastoral development to cope with the pressures of life and contribute positively to society."

The school, based just minutes away in Bridge Street, welcomed its first pupils in April 2021.

Thetford & Brandon Times: The Damara School opened in Thetford in 2021. Pictured, centre, is headteacher Sandra GovenderThe Damara School opened in Thetford in 2021. Pictured, centre, is headteacher Sandra Govender (Image: Sandra Govender)

Paul Hewitt, executive member for property at Breckland Council, said: "The lease of this building is a testament to the commitment of both Breckland Council and the Damara School to the betterment of the community.

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"With this partnership, the school will be able to continue providing much-needed services to local children who may have otherwise struggled in traditional educational settings."

The grade II listed property in Raymond Street dates to the late 18th century, before being rebuilt in 1861.

It has most recently been used as office and warehouse space, with plans already lodged to make alterations to create play space for pupils