PLANS to build a special needs school in Winnersh for 150 children have taken a big step forward, despite concerns about the location.

Wokingham Borough Council’s Executive approved plans to lease land at Winnersh Farm to the Department of Education for 125 years.

The school, which is expected to open in September 2022, will be built and funded by the Department for Education and run by the The Maiden Erlegh Trust.

The 125-year lease was approved at a council meeting on Thursday, September 24, even though several councillors criticised the proposed location of the school.

READ MORE: Petition to protect black history mural sparks controversy

At Thursday’s meeting, concerns were raised about plans to build the school next to the M4, due to the noise and air pollution.

“What sort of Local Authority builds a SEND school next to one of the busiest motorways in the country?” asked councillor Andy Croy (Labour).

He added: “This school is going to be there for 100 years.

“Whatever the studies say, people are not going to understand why a school has been built there.

“We should be looking for the best location in the borough.

“I can’t think of any worse location than next to a motorway.”

He was told that other sites had been considered but the Department for Education, Reading Borough Council and Wokingham Council are satisfied that the site in Winnersh Farm is safe and suitable.

Cllr UllaKarin Clark, executive member for children’s services, said: “We are very conscious of the potential air quality and noise issues surrounding the site.

“Our technical teams have already carried out initial impact assessments on these matters during the master-planning process, which demonstrate the noise and air quality levels are acceptable.

READ MORE: Latest coronavirus figures for Reading

“These assessments have helped us identify the best location for the school at the western end of the site, which is furthest from the motorway and adjacent to the existing Wheatfield Primary School.”

A planning application for the school will be submitted in January 2021.

Wokingham Borough Council says the project will provided much-needed  special educational needs school places for children in Wokingham and Reading.

According to the council, some children are currently having to travel “large distances” to get an education.

The new school will be for children with autism and social emotional and mental health difficulties.

Half the places will be awarded to children in the borough of Wokingham and the other half will got to children living in Reading.

Plans to build 250 homes next to the school are still being discussed, but the council says that figure has been “adjusted downwards” and a planning application will be submitted “early next year”.