Temporary classroom block to be built at growing Epinay School ahead of move to South Shields School site

Proposals for a temporary classroom block at a South Tyneside special needs school have been given the go-ahead.

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 3:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 3:38 pm

South Tyneside Council lodged an application with its own planning department in July 2021 for Epinay Business and Enterprise School in Jarrow.

This included the construction of a single-storey modular classroom for a temporary period of 12 months and two temporary car parking spaces.

According to a planning statement, the temporary classroom will allow the school to support additional children with special educational needs, with one teacher and one teaching assistant proposed.

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Epinay Business and Enterprise School

Floor plans also show two separate teaching spaces within the modular building, alongside toilet facilities and storage areas.

After the temporary use ends at the Epinay site, the classroom block will be removed as the school is formally closed and staff and pupils move to the new location.

During consultation on the modular classroom application, three representations were received from nearby residents raising concerns about parking problems on Clervaux Terrace and the areas surrounding the school.

South Shields School closed on August 31, 2020.

In a decision report, planning officers said the proposed parking spaces were acceptable and that existing parking restrictions in the area would not be affected by the proposal.

A planning statement from the applicant added: “Access is to be achieved by utilising the existing school access and vehicle drop-off point, from Clervaux Terrace.

“It is understood that pupils being taught in the proposed modular classroom building are likely to travel to school using existing transport or a dedicated service.

“Additional traffic flows will be low and will not result in significant additional traffic flows to the site over the temporary period of operation.”

South Tyneside Council’s planning department approved the application for the temporary classroom building on September 24 2021.

A council decision report concluded that the proposal would not be “harmful to highway safety and would meet the parking standards for the proposed development.”

Epinay Business and Enterprise School provides education for children and young people who have an education, health and care plan – which includes a range of additional needs.

These range from learning difficulties, visual impairment and autistic spectrum disorders to speech, language and communication issues.

The school’s planned move to the ex-South Shields School site will allow Epinay to increase its pupil numbers while reducing out-of-borough placements.

Eventually this will allow more children in the future to receive their education in South Tyneside, instead of having to travel to school in neighbouring council areas.

Following cabinet approval earlier this year and works at the new school site, pupils and staff are expected to relocate from April 2022.

South Shields School, in Nevinson Avenue, closed its doors in 2020 after it was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in 2017 and failed to win an academy sponsor, alongside falling pupil numbers.

Despite opposition from parents and teachers and improved standards, South Tyneside Council pressed ahead with the closure – leaving questions about the future of the building.

The school was rebuilt in 2011 under the terms of a £24 million Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal – which commits it to repayments every year until 2036.

Moving Epinay to provide much-needed extra space was the solution.

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