School plans hit safety stumbling block

Plans to move a school for children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties to a Norfolk hotel could hit a stumbling block on Monday over road safety concerns.

Plans to move a school for children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties to a Norfolk hotel could hit a stumbling block on Monday over road safety concerns.

Villagers in Northwold, near Thetford, spoke of their concerns last month after it emerged that the Priory Group wanted to convert the former Comfort Inn complex into an independent specialist school.

Work has already started to alter the buildings to enable the Sheridan House School to relocate from its current base at Southburgh, near Dereham, for the start of the autumn term.

But members of the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk are being recommended to refuse the change of use application on September 7 because of concerns relating to the impact on the busy A134.


You may also want to watch:


The Priory Group, which is famed for treating celebrities with addictions and mental health problems at its London clinic, wants to provide day and boarding facilities for up to 40 students with behavioural, emotional, and social difficulties at the former Comfort Inn, which closed earlier this year.

The Northwold site would also employ more than 50 teachers and learning support assistants and would help address a shortfall in specialised education facilities in the region.

Most Read

However, Norfolk County Council's highways department has objected to the scheme because the increased traffic generation would lead to safety problems on the A134.

In a report to councillors, case officer Keith Wilkinson, said the proposed development was an acceptable change of use for the country hotel. However the applicant had “failed to make a convincing case” to ease concerns about the potential intensification of traffic movements in and out of the site.

“Given the nature of the use as a school, the serious accident record relating to the site access, together with the designation of the A134 as a corridor of movement the application is recommended for refusal on safety grounds,” he said.

The scheme has received eight letters of objection from villagers concerned about road safety, lack of consultation from the Priory Group, and fears that children may abscond from the school. The application has received one letter of support highlighting the employment and financial boost to the village.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter