A PLANNING application has been submitted for the refurbishment and conversion of the former South Wiltshire University Technical College (UTC).

The site on Wilton Road is being turned into a SEND free school which will be run by Reach South Academy Trust.

According to planning documents the Salisbury Academy of Inspirational Learning (SAIL) will provide places for 150 pupils, aged five to nine, with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) or Social Emotional Mental Health (SEMH) and 80 staff. It will also provide alternative provision for secondary age SEND pupils currently in mainstream education.

“The curriculum will be tailored to provide a bespoke journey from early years through to post 16, enabling students with these diagnoses to develop key skills and overcome barriers to learning,” said the design and access statement. 

Works would include part demolition and renovation of the existing outbuildings and garages, reconfiguration of external spaces and landscaping, new fenestration and a new enclosed escape stair.

The site has been unused since the former UTC closed in August 2020 and being developed by the Department for Education in liaison with Reach South Academy Trust and Wiltshire Council.

Planning documents state the new school “will provide much needed SEND provision within Salisbury” adding: “This school will aid the LPA [local planning authority] in ensuring there is sufficient choice of schools within Salisbury and the surrounding areas.”

The plans say a key outcome is the “provision of new educational facilities where appropriate and high quality educational services that assist in providing trained employees necessary to deliver economic growth.”

The area to the south of the school has been reconfigured to allow for additional parking, which means the loss of a small number of trees. These will be replaced with new tree, shrub and groundcover planting. This are would remain open to the public and “outside the school’s secure zone”.

The existing multi-use games area (MUGA) is being kept as part of the proposals. Provision for “informal play with painted markings for different play and learning opportunities”.

There will be canopied areas for outdoor learning and dining as well as a trail of timber play equipment and areas of sensory planting and “calm space”.

Site access from the highway will not change. There will be three crossing points.

The planning documents also said: “The proposal has sought to optimise the site and existing building to create a unique learning environment, without compromising the privacy or safeguarding of the students.”

The scheme is looking to have spaces “specifically tailored to the distinct needs of the individual cohorts and pupils groups” with “smaller learning suites” preferred.

The application documents state that work would aim to start in autumn 2022 with completion aimed for autumn 2023.

The proposal is currently under consultation until July 7. To view or comment on the plans visit the Wiltshire Council website (reference PL/2022/03120).