Planning chiefs approve £4.9m Brockenhurst College building project

9 November 2022

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New Forest National Park Authority has granted planning permission for Brockenhurst College to erect a £4.9m building that will incorporate a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Independence Hub.

Inside will be 14 new classrooms, social space, staff space, meeting rooms, a medical room, a hygiene room, and a sensory room, among other facilities.

The 1,200 square-metre, single storey, modular structure will also house the College’s existing Foundation Studies department.

This move will free-up existing facilities to accommodate the extra students that are expected from 2023 onwards due to a surge in 16 – 19 year-olds in the general population.

Funding of £4m for the project will be provided by the Department for Education’s £83m Post-16 Capacity Fund, which is earmarked for handling the demographic spike.

This award was made possible thanks to match funding of £0.9m provided by Hampshire County Council through its High Needs capital funding, which is dedicated to creating additional SEND places.

The Council’s All our Talents strategy aims to establish SEND Employability and Independence Hubs across the county to help young people with learning and/or physical disabilities, developing independent living skills and helping secure employment.

Vice Principal Limor Feingold, who oversees Brockenhurst College’s financial affairs, said: “The new facility will enable us to build on our reputation as a provider of exceptional SEND education.

“It will also enable us to support the forecast demographic increase in learners aged 16 – 19.

“We have an ambitious timetable and are aiming for the building project to be completed by July 2023, allowing the facility to be operational from the start of the new academic year,” he added.

Councillor Roz Chadd, Hampshire County Council’s Deputy Leader and Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services, said: “We know how much value young people with SEND can bring to the workplace.

“We are committed, through the County Council’s ‘All our Talents’ strategy, to helping them develop the skills and independence to lead fulfilling lives and successfully progress to future employment. Our SEND Employability and Independence Hubs are crucial to this, and I look forward to seeing work begin on the new facility at Brockenhurst College.”

A key planning condition was that the structure must meet a Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method Standard of Very Good.