Carter Jonas Achieves Planning Consent for a Sensory Garden for Best Futures School in Aylesby, Lincolnshire
Date of Article
May 18 2023
Planning & development

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Carter Jonas has secured planning consent on behalf of Best Futures School, a specialist nurture school in the Lincolnshire countryside, to develop a sensory garden.

Approval was granted by the Planning Committee of North East Lincolnshire Council on 26 April.

Best Futures School is a unique nurturing environment with an adapted curriculum and classrooms for small groups of children aged 5-11 years.  

Pupils arrive at the school with a variety of learning difficulties or disabilities including ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), SLCN (Speech, Language and Communication Needs) and CI (Communication and Interaction needs). Through its bespoke approach, Best Futures significantly reduces barriers for pupils where a challenging mainstream curriculum has not been successful or an alternative special school is not appropriate. It aims to provide equal opportunity through education, enabling pupils to become successful learners, effective decision-making skills, with skills to make and sustain friendships, enhanced communication skills, increase self-esteem and achieve their own sense of belonging.

Calming and therapeutic, sensory gardens have been proven to improve engagement, communication, interaction, wellbeing and concentration levels and encourage independent exploration. 

Best Futures’ new sensory garden will include a wildflower meadow; five raised beds for the growing of fruits and vegetables; a reading area with blankets and cushions, fold up chairs and sensory mats. Planting and resources will be adapted as the needs of the children change. 

As part of the pupils’ curriculum and timetable, activities which will take place within the new garden will include, observing nature, mindfulness exercises, reading, outdoor art and gardening.

The sensory garden will extend and enhance the school’s external space by utilising an area of pasture within an agricultural field provided by David Spilman, of Aylesby Manor Farms. David together with his partner, Kittie Ford, a Partner at Carter Jonas, have supported the project from day one. In addition to providing the land, Kittie arranged for the majority of the planning and GIS work to be carried out on a pro bono basis.

Dawn Best, proprietor of Best Futures School commented, “We are thrilled with the decision of the planning committee and the positive comments from the committee members, many of which commended our school for our positive work and for stepping forward with this planning application to enrich children lives. To be able to offer this amazing space for our pupils is just so exciting. Sensory gardens have a plethora of benefits; being able to hear the wind and sounds of the world will encourage pupils to practice mindfulness, instil calm and focus, to relax and enjoy the countryside setting. Spending more time outdoors, breathing fresh air, and being exposed to sunlight are extremely beneficial to the children's overall physical health and emotional wellbeing. We are so appreciative of the support from the David Spilman, Kittie Ford, and John and Patricia Spilman, who have been so kind, understanding and supportive since our school was founded here 9 years ago. Also the kindness and determination of Frances Keenan at Carter Jonas who has provided direction, clarity and unwavering support, understanding our cause. With the extensive collaborative support and advocacy from everyone involved in making this happen, we have been able to secure a positive outcome which will make such a difference for our pupil's opportunities, lives and life experiences, and we can't thank everyone enough.

David Spilman, director of Aylesby Manor Farms commented, “During a conversation with Dawn in 2021, I learnt that that the school had recently lost the use of their former garden which was a key facility for the children’s learning and development, and I was keen to help if we could. I have always enjoyed the sense of accomplishment from growing my own produce (‘field to fork’), and with my love for the countryside I am aware of the benefits a rural outdoor space would offer pupils of Best Futures school. A number of sites were considered before the decision was made to take this site forward, but it works well as it is in close proximity to the school, suitable in size and its surroundings, and importantly the land is south facing. We are thrilled that the application has been approved; it is an excellent project which will provide significant benefits to the children that use it. We were pleased that the application was so well and positively received by the planning committee who really embraced this concept.”

Frances Keenan, Senior Planner at Carter Jonas in Birmingham steered the planning application through the application process and committee, overcoming a number of technical matters such as the historic sensitivity of the adjacent Grade I Listed St Lawrence Church and safeguarding neighbouring residential amenity. She commented, “We were very pleased to have the opportunity to support this very worthwhile planning application and to see it welcomed so positively by the Planning Committee. Best Futures makes an incalculable difference to the lives of many local children and the provision of the sensory garden will extend its benefits substantially.”

Cllr Tim Mickleburgh supported the planning application at the planning committee meeting. He says, “I think it is an excellent scheme, I was happy to provide full support.”

 Best Futures School, a specialist nurture school in the Lincolnshire countryside.
Dawn Best, Rose Best, Kittie Ford and David Spilman