A SPECIAL needs school in Reading could soon move into a vacant children centre if planners give permission.

Phoenix College, off Christchurch Road, is a school for pupils with social, emotional and mental health issues, aged between 11 and 18-years-old. 

The school is currently based in a converted Victorian town house, but is too small and can only accept male pupils due to a lack of ‘sanitary facilities’, according to planning documents. 

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But it could be moving to the Hamilton Centre, on Bulmershe Road, depending on if a planning committee at  Reading Borough Council grant planning permission.

Construction work would be scheduled to start in June 2020, and finish in either May or June 2021.

The Hamilton Centre, built in the 1970s, is close to the University of Reading, Maiden Erlegh secondary school and Alfred Sutton primary school.

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The building was first used as a sixth form, which closed in the 1980s. It was also previously home to a children’s centre on the ground floor and offices on the first floor.

Most of the pupils at Phoenix College ‘have been permanently excluded from mainstream or other special needs schools’, according to planning documents. 

The plans to convert the building include a new extension, larger car park, and sports pitch. 

The car park will be increase from 19 spaces to 28, and a new electric charging point; while the newly built hall block will include a dining room, kitchen, changing room and assembly hall. 

The refurbishment will be specifically designed with the behaviour of the pupils in mind, to protect them from one another and ‘reduce the opportunities for self-harm. 

Planning documents stated: “Pupils display a range of behaviours and can often become aggressive, taking out their frustrations on both staff and the fabric of the building they inhabit.

“[The refurbishment] will provide a much need educational facility for some of the most vulnerable young people of Reading … breathing new life into a redundant building that in its present state is a magnet for antisocial behaviour.” 

Helen Chadwick, who lives nearby, wrote to the council objecting to the plans. She said: “It will cause more traffic congestion in the area.”

Mrs Cash, who also lives nearby, was concerned about parking. 

She said: “Since Maiden Erlegh school has been here, parking is horrendous at the end of the day, with parents having no consideration for residents and park across my drive and on double yellow lines, frequently blocking me.” 

Seven other possible alternative sites were considered.