Multi-million pound SEND centre earmarked for Ardleigh Green college campus

Havering Colleges Ardleigh Green campus

A centre for students with special educational needs and disabilities is earmarked for Havering Colleges' Ardleigh Green campus. - Credit: New City College

A college hopes to build a multi-million pound facility for students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) at its Ardleigh Green campus - with part of the site being sold off for a care home to help fund it.

Havering Council's strategic planning committee on March 25 discussed plans for an 87-bed private care home and three self-build houses on New City College's Ardleigh Green site, off Nelmes Way and Garland Way.

A hybrid planning application has not yet been submitted, but councillors heard from representatives of the college and Signature Senior Lifestyle care homes about the proposals.

The new buildings would be constructed on the site's southern car park, adjacent to Nelmes Way.

The college already submitted a separate application in February to build a replacement parking facility on the eastern part of the campus.

Louise Morton, from Quadrant Town Planning on behalf of the college, told councillors it is embarking upon a programme of "campus rationalisations".

She said this would see the 1960s buildings at the Ardleigh Green campus, which caters for around 2,800 students, demolished and replaced.

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A grant from the Greater London Authority, together with match funding from the sale of part of the site to Signature, would bring £15million for the campus improvements.

Ms Morton said: "This will be used to create a brand new SEND building, which will operate as a centre of excellence within the borough for students with special educational needs and disabilities.

"Plans for this will come forward later in the year.

"The first step in securing the funds is the relocation of the car park to an alternative part of the site in order to release the land to Signature.

"The primary aim for the college is to provide modern, fit-for-purpose education and training facilities through the implementation of a phased masterplan."

An outline application would be brought forward for the three four-bedroom homes in due course.

A report said the care home, which will be the subject of a detailed planning application, would provide around 87 care suites with 24 of those for people with dementia.

It is also proposed to feature communal facilities such as a village hall, cafe, restaurant and therapy rooms.

On its website, Signature says it offers luxury assisted living, nursing and dementia care.

David Roe, the company's head of land and planning, told councillors: "There is a large local demand for this type of accommodation and care.

"This site presents an ideal location being in the heart of an existing community but with minimal impact to the existing environment."

Committee members such as Cllr Graham Williamson and Cllr Ray Best had reservations about the planned number of parking spaces for the care home, which Mr Roe said would be around 45-50.

Cllr Best said: "I am not convinced that the number of parking spaces that you have provided are going to be sufficient."

Mr Roe said Signature had allowed for "over provision" of parking but said they would keep it under review.

Cllr Tim Ryan also voiced his concern over the replacement of some trees at the site, some of which he said were 100 years old.

He said: "I am sure residents in that area do not want to see their trees taken away and smaller trees put back up."

Steve Hynds, of architects PRP, responded: "Signature always plants semi-mature trees and we will get as many trees along there as we possibly can.

"Over time, as those trees mature, that screen will develop and get more dense."

If approved, Mr Roe revealed the care home would take 20 months to complete from the start of construction.

Janet Smith, principal of New City College’s Havering campuses, said: “Plans are at a very early stage for a range of improvements to the Ardleigh Green campus to make sure that the college continues to offer the very best learning environment for local people.

"The first phase is a new, bespoke teaching and learning area for SEND students and a new nursery. 

"We are looking forward to sharing our plans - and the benefits they will bring for students - as they develop.”