Norfolk

Norfolk 'forest school' with alpaca herd approved by council

Alpacas Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The proposed forest school would include a herd of six alpacas

A new "forest school" with its own alpacas, outdoor classrooms and compost toilets has been given the go-ahead.

The 30-pupil outdoor school, including include yurts and forest shelters, will be set up in 20 acres (8.1 hectares) of south Norfolk woodland.

A planning application said it would provide courses for children, adults with learning difficulties and others at risk of social isolation.

Council officers had recommended the plans for approval, despite opposition.

Several letters supported the new school in Silfield, near Wymondham, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

But others feared it could increase traffic in the area around Silfield Street and that noise from the school would disturb neighbours.

South Norfolk Council's planning committee approved the application on Wednesday.

'At one with nature'

The school has no plans for electricity on site, will draw its water from a borehole and proposes to cook on an open fire when possible.

Lynn Armes, case officer for the scheme, said the project would "provide overriding benefits from the provision of a forest school" without impacting the character of the area or neighbouring properties.

She added that residents' concerns over effective sanitation and a safe learning environment did not fall under planning criteria.

The school would open on weekdays between 08:00 and 16:00-17:00 and would create 13 jobs, according to the application.

Planning documents say it would encourage children to learn through hands-on experiences in a natural environment.

"The focus is on physical development for strong mental health and keeping active while being at one with nature," they add.

It will also offer activities outside school term times, closing only for two weeks over Christmas.

Wymondham Town Council had urged the committee to refuse the application.

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