PLANS have been lodged to turn a large office building in Shelf into a school for nine to 18 year-olds with special educational needs.

The scheme by established provider of specialist education, Witherslack Group, is to turn the building at Shelf Mills, Wade House Road, into a day school for up to 60 pupils.

The firm already runs two schools and a vocational training centre in the Wakefield area - which are full - and has identified the need for a new specialist day facility.

The group, which works with local authorities in the region, already takes children from all the West Yorkshire authorities.

But according to documents submitted to Calderdale Council as part of the change of use application, it states: “Therefore, Witherslack requires additional facilities for West Yorkshire and determined that a school in this area would give them a facility on the western side of the sub-county and help to place children closer to their homes.

“This is needed to provide for the identified growing need and to reduce the travel times for pupils. By creating a more sustainably acceptable arrangement for children with specialist educational needs, the siting of a specialist school at Halifax would be highly desirable.”

The existing office complex is across two buildings, and is part of the wider Shelf Industrial Estate. It is part three, part two and part single storey, being built in stone with a pitched slate roof.

It adds: “It is intended that the former office building will provide for two primary and eleven secondary and vocational classrooms, each accommodating up to eight children, arranged on the ground, first and second floors of the building.

“Specialist rooms for science, art, IT and food technology, amongst other subjects, will also be accommodated. All associated facilities will be incorporated, including a dining hall and catering kitchen, gymnasium, changing rooms and toilets. The existing canteen will be utilised as the kitchen and dining hall for the children. The gatehouse will be left unused.”

A new perimeter fence would be installed and alterations would be made to the southern elevation to create a pedestrian access.

60 pupils with special educational needs are expected to attend the school, and they would be supported by around 45 staff.

The documents add that the school day would be 9am to 3pm on weekdays only.

In addition every pupil would arrive and leave in a taxi or minibus, where there would be staff supervision of pupils and marshalling of traffic. The vehicles would pick up and drop off in the car park, rather than queuing on Wade House Road.