CHESHIRE East has given the go ahead for a Crewe special school to expand on to a satellite site at Wilmslow.

The Dean Row Centre will be remodelled and refurbished as a satellite site for the highly rated Springfield School in Crewe.

It is planned the new site will be open by September 2022.

Cllr Kath Flavell (Lab) chair of the children and families committee, told the meeting on Monday afternoon: “We do have a shortage of SEND [special educational needs and disabilities] places for children in Cheshire East. This particular proposal is to extend Springfield School, which is an outstanding special school based in Crewe.

“Many children travel a quite long way to attend that school from the north of the borough and we do have children who have to go out of Cheshire East to attend a SEND place so this expansion, which provides an extra 80 places, is proposed to be placed in Dean Row in a building that we already own. It’s already an asset of Cheshire East but was considered surplus to requirement.”

The committee was told there had already been a consultation on the proposal and the responses were ‘almost entirely positive’.

But councillors George Hayes and Janet Clowes said while they were supportive of the plan, they did have reservations about the suitability of some aspects of the site.

Cllr Hayes (Congleton West, Con) said: “This is great if it improves our capacity of specialist provision within the borough.”

But he questioned ‘the limitations of the outdoors space of the site and how we seek to mitigate that without children necessarily having to always go to the current Crewe site'.

Conservative group leader Cllr Clowes, who represents Wybunbury, said: “My concern is £3 million [allocated funding]. Is it going to be enough to bring it up to the standard of Springfield School recalling the considerable investment that has gone into Springfield's recently because, if you like, the mother site is excellent?

“I am concerned that that doesn't necessarily mean that an extension satellite site is going to be equally of high quality immediately. It takes a lot of work. It will be a whole different staff set, it will be a whole different set of circumstances.”

Cllr Barry Burkhill (Handforth, Ind) said Dean Row ‘seemed to have been not very successful as an independent living centre’.

He added: “This is equally and probably more important to have something in the north of the borough for the SEND education of children.

“Initially I thought the schools were muscling in on an asset for care for the elderly but no, I think this is a good scheme and I’m quite happy for it, at the moment.”

Jacky Forster, director of education at Cheshire East, reassured councillors that Springfield’s standards would not be compromised at the Wilmslow site.

“I can assure you that governors at Springfield and the headteacher there would not be supportive of this if they did not feel they could sustain that high quality provision that they have a reputation for across Cheshire East,” said Mrs Forster.

The committee agreed the recommendations to approve the proposed expansion of Springfield School on to the satellite site at Wilmslow.

It also approved the procurement of a contract of works and agreed the recommendation that full council approves funding, which will come from capital grants.

Because the matter is urgent and the July full council meeting has been cancelled, this will be determined by the chief executive under urgency powers.