Leighton special school has the finance to make sport hall dream a reality

Oak Bank School's proposed new hall
Oak Bank School's proposed new hall

A Leighton Buzzard school for children with special needs is looking to gets its dream of constructing a multi-use sports hall back on track.

Oak Bank School, which first opened back in 1976, has seen previous planning applications to erect such a building approved by Central Beds Council, but the projects have ultimately failed due to a lack of finance.

Oak Bank School's proposed new hall

Oak Bank School's proposed new hall

But now the school, which is presently expanding with the construction of four new classrooms, says it has the budget to build on its tennis courts area and has submitted a new application to the council.

A statement on behalf of the school says: “As part of a continued investment programme, the school is seeking to improve the facilities it is able to offer and is proposing to build a multi-purpose hall. The existing facilities are limited and the proposed building would substantially improve the facilities available to the children.

“The council has previously granted planning permission for a multi-purpose hall within the grounds of the school. Unfortunately, Oak Bank School has not been able to implement these due to the shortage of funding. The school has now gathered a budget and is hopeful that they may be able to enhance its existing facilities.

“When the school was first built, there were no purpose-built facilities for physical education. The general hall has therefore been adapted over time so far as possible to facilitate some sports activities. However, the size and design of the existing hall considerably limits the range and scale of activities that can be accommodated.

“Thus while the school has its own fitness suite, small hall and outdoor facilities, it relies upon access to a wide variety of external facilities to run its curriculum. The reliance upon external facilities causes operational difficulties and limits the extent to which they can be used.

“Accordingly, the school wishes to construct its own multi-purpose hall that would be able to accommodate a range of sporting activities and physical education.”

The new 373sq metre facility would have with space for two badminton courts, a gym and changing facilities.

The structure would have the potential to provide additional 150sq metres floorspace at a mezzanine level for an additional activity room, storage and a viewing gallery.

The land lies in the Green Belt, but the school believes special circumstances exist due to it being within existing school grounds, the pupils’ needs and a growing local population.

The school says that a public exhibition held in February saw the majority of visitors in “broad support” of the plans.