A PLAN to create a “much-needed” special needs school with space for more than 100 pupils in Rayleigh has been unveiled.

Essex County Council and Rayleigh and Wickford MP Mark Francois unveiled the plans to create the new school at the 500-home Wolsey Park development, off Rawreth Lane.

Mr Francois has been campaigning for a new special needs school to be built in south Essex to help the “increase in number of parents who simply cannot find a special needs school place for their children”.

If planning permission is approved, construction could start in early 2025, and the new school will open to its first pupils in the 2025/26 academic year.

Mr Francois said: “We do not currently have a special needs school anywhere in the Rochford District, so creating this new school in Rayleigh should help to meet that vital need.

“I launched this campaign after meeting many frustrated parents at my constituency surgeries, who were desperate for a special needs place for their child but could not obtain one.

“I would like to commend Essex County Council for all their proactive endeavours on this project and I hope we will now receive a very positive response to the consultation over the next few weeks, so the school can then open next academic year.”

A consultation is now live to gain views on the proposed school site.

The school, which will support pupils from the age of three to 18, will be funded by Essex County Council and section 106 payments.

James Newport, Rochford councillor responsible for Rayleigh North, said: “This is really good news. As district councillor, I have previously raised the lack of provision in our district.

“This has now come about it, and it is really positive. We have site allocation, we have the funding, so why don’t we build this.”

Michael Hoy, councillor responsible for Rochford West, added: “I am really pleased it appears to now be happening. We have been in meetings and talking to officers at Essex and Rochford for around a year now. So, good progress has been made, which is exciting.”

Take part at consultations.essex.gov.uk/school-organisation/wolseypark