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Senior minister set to rule on school’s expansion plan

A Norfolk school is set for a major expansion after lodging plans for more than 70 new overnight rooms.

Aurora Eccles School in Quidenham is hoping to secure permission for a huge upgrade with the introduction of new student accommodation.

Formerly named New Eccles Hall School, it is a private specialist school for secondary school pupils who have special educational needs. It has not offered on-site boarding since 2019.

Entrance to Aurora Eccles School (Google Maps)
Entrance to Aurora Eccles School (Google Maps)

The school is set within 34 acres of countryside and now hopes to build a total of 72 overnight rooms, along with living areas and kitchen facilities, similar to university student accommodation. Warden rooms will be included within the development.

The accommodation would be split across three blocks of two-storey buildings, constructed in phases. The buildings have been designed to offer students a range of flexible residential options, including full and weekly board.

The proposals have been approved by Breckland Council, but permission for the development will have to be granted by the secretary of state due to an objection by Sports England.

The governing body has raised concerns about the loss of playing field space and a cricket pitch, which will need to be relocated to accommodate the new buildings.

Planning officers at Breckland Council said the benefits of the development would “outweigh the conflicts” raised by Sports England.

Councillor Robert Kybird added: “I think that this is a vast improvement for the pupils of the school and is a much-needed facility in the right place.”

Aurora Eccles is a school for pupils who have experienced difficulties in mainstream settings, either as a result of specific learning difficulties or more complex communication and interaction difficulties.

It stopped offering on-site accommodation several years ago as when the option became “no longer viable”.

Breckland Council expects to receive a response from the secretary of state within a couple of weeks.

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