Plans to build a school in Crowthorne for children with autism are a “step in the right direction,” Bracknell Forest’s councillor in charge of education has said.

The school could be built on the former site of the Transport Research Laboratory, now part of the Bucklers Park major housing development, with a potential opening date of 2026.

Bracknell Forest Council’s Executive Committee – its leading group of councillors – gave the plans their approval at a meeting on Tuesday, September 19.

Councillor Roy Bailey, responsible for children, young people and learning, said: “I’m delighted that we’re moving forward with this. It is, I think, in the right place with the right facilities.

“I’m really happy that this is happening, and I think the response locally has been very encouraging.”

He added: “I think this is very definitely a step in the right direction and I’m delighted that it’s going to happen.”

Councillor Paul Bidwell also welcomed the scheme – but asked whether there were other plans to provide school spaces for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) before the school at Bucklers Park is built.

He said: “It’s great news that we’re getting that provision in the borough. But can you shed light on whether the investment will still be put forward for SEND facilities within existing schools? It’s a long time until 2026 and clearly the need is probably greater than the capacity of that one establishment.”

Senior council officer Grainne Siggins, Executive Director for People, said the council was still looking at other projects it could fund in the meantime.

READ MORE: New school for children with autism could be built in Crowthorne

The school is the result of a bid by Bracknell Forest Council for government funding to build two special educational needs schools.

Under the proposals, the council will buy the land from developers CALA homes for a fee of £1. In return, CALA will not have to pay a £4.7 million contribution towards building a primary school on site that was part of a previous planning agreement.

But the Department for Education will fund the school, and also manage its design and construction.

Council leader Mary Temperton asked how much control the council would have over the project. She said: “How much input does this council actually have in how this school can actually have the right classrooms, the right space for our local children?”

Ms Siggins said the Department for Education had committed to engaging with the council throughout the project – and had already involved them in the choice of school provider.

But she added: “How far we’re able to influence in the detail, councillor Temperton, is currently unknown.”