Runcorn church 'school' plans considered

Hope Corner Church and Academy
Image caption The academy is seeking approval to teach up to 20 vulnerable students

Plans for a church community centre to be used as a school for people with autism or Asperger's syndrome are to be considered by councillors.

Hope Corner Academy, which is run by Hope Corner Church, opened last year on Clifton Road, Runcorn, Cheshire.

It was given planning permission to operate as a community centre but now wants approval to teach up to 20 vulnerable students.

Forty people have objected to Halton Borough Council about the plans.

Three local councillors have also objected.

Amendment considered

They maintain the centre was never built to be a school, and if the scheme is approved it would lead to anti-social behaviour and cause house prices to fall.

They are also concerned about the need for the school when similar facilities already exist in the borough.

The academy has now registered with Ofsted as an independent special needs school.

The council is set to consider whether the plans are against permission sought in 2009 for a "proposed two-storey community centre/church".

It will also consider a proposal to amend the original planning permission to include the use of the community centre for the provision of education.

That provision would be "for vulnerable people below the age of 20 years who suffer from autism, Asperger's syndrome, or other mental or physical impairment liable to cause them to be excluded from normal education".

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