A new school will be built in a Norfolk town after the £20m scheme was given the go-ahead.

The new school, to be constructed off Lynn Road in Swaffham, will replace Fred Nicholson School in Dereham and will cater for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Members of Norfolk County Council's planning committee voted unanimously to grant planning permission for the new 224-place school when they met on Tuesday.

The relocation of Fred Nicholson School will mean children would be able to attend the new school all the way from the age of five to 16, with the number of pupils going up from 173.

The planning committee heard how the new school will be built on fields which are currently used for farming, with a new access road from Lynn Road.

County Hall officers said the school would include 197 car parking spaces, including 18 with electric charge points.

Dereham Times: Green county councillor Paul NealeGreen county councillor Paul Neale (Image: Norwich City Council)

Green county councillor Paul Neale questioned why so many spaces were needed, with officers explaining they were needed because the ratio of staff to pupils at the special school would be high.

Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Riley said he was "enthusiastic" about the proposal, but, given the growing number of children being assessed as having special educational needs, whether there was room within the eight-acre site for future expansion.

Dereham Times: Liberal Democrat county councillor Steve RileyLiberal Democrat county councillor Steve Riley (Image: Jason Bye)

Officers said there was the potential for some expansion. But they said the new facility would already be one of the biggest special schools in Norfolk and County Hall intended to build further special schools across a wider geographical area.

Conservative Martin Storey said: "I welcome this. It is a wonderful thing to be planning in Norfolk."

Norfolk County Council's strategy to build new special schools comes as the authority tries to bring down its costs of transporting children to the classroom.

The bill for transporting Norfolk children to school has soared to a whopping £62m. Building special schools closer to where youngsters live is seen as key to reducing that bill.

The new school is due to open in April next year.

No decisions have been made about the future of the current Fred Nicholson site in Dereham.