The disabled learning charity has filed its appeal against the refusal by Stockport Council to grant planning permission for a £45m school and 325 homes on greenbelt land near Heald Green in January.
Seashell’s board of trustees said that they believe the decision to be “fundamentally flawed and grossly unfair,” delivering on the appeal as they pledged to do in March. and has pledged to fight for the future of its students.
Chief executive and school principal Mark Geraghty said: “It was a huge blow having the application refused and we were very disappointed, especially as the councillors ignored the advice of their own professional, qualified planning officers.
“We considered our options and we quickly realised that we had no choice but to appeal against the decision. As anyone who has cared for someone with special needs will understand, these children and young adults deserve to have someone in their corner and we believe this decision is wrong and unfair and we intend to fight it on their behalf.
“We have filed our appeal and Stockport Council will now have defend their decision which will cost them money they really didn’t need to spend. We spent over two years preparing our application, we answered every question asked of us and we believe we have clearly demonstrated very special circumstances. We fully expect to win consent for our application.”
A Stockport Council spokesman said: “We’re aware of an appeal from the Seashell Trust regarding a recent planning decision. This will now be heard through the appropriate appeals process.”
The charity provides specialist care to children and young people with autism, deafness, blindness, and those with physical and learning disabilities, and had lodged a hybrid application for the school at the site between Wilmslow Road and the A34 bypass, which would provide teaching space, a swimming pool and associated infrastructure. The facility would replace its existing 120-capacity school at the site, with part of the site sold for housing to fund the project..
Willmott Dixon had already started demolition of some of the existing buildings, which are, said the charity, no longer fit for purpose.
Stockport’s committee voted by seven votes to five against the scheme in January, in the face of officers’ recommendation to approve
The officers’ report, however, had noted that the proposals were “in conflict with relevant green belt policies” in the area’s local development plan, and added the scheme would have “a detrimental impact” on the openness of the green belt and would result in “encroachment into the countryside”.
The development would also cause “significant extra demand” for local school places which “could not be readily absorbed by existing schools in the borough”.
Seashell’s professional team for the proposal included architect Worthington Ashworth Jackson Walker and NJL Consulting as planner.