‘New centre will be big help for the disabled’

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DISABLED students who currently have to travel outside of Buckinghamshire for their education may soon get a boost if plans for a new facility in Aylesbury are approved.

A bid to build an independent living centre at Aylesbury College has been submitted.

At the moment, Bucks County Council spends £2 million each year on placing 30 learners, aged between 16 to 25, at colleges outside Bucks.

Backers say current services for disabled adult learners in the Vale are ‘inappropriate’, and hope to have the new centre open in the autumn.

Pauline Odulinski, principal at the college, said the centre may attract families to move to North Bucks.

A planning application submitted to Aylesbury Vale District Council states that disabled students are currently being taught in ‘inappropriate surroundings that are not best suited to their needs’.

It says: “If purpose-built facilities are not made available, the county will be under an obligation to transport these students to another county where facilities exist.

“The council see the potential excessive costs of this alternative as unacceptable and unsustainable given their policies of minimising car or bus journeys.

“The college have the land to accommodate such a facility on their campus, and, as the students are currently educated at the college, it seems appropriate to build such a facility there.”

College principal Pauline Odulinski told the Herald: “There’s currently a lot of interest from parents, some people are talking about moving from the south of the county to the north to be able to take advantage of it.

“It will be subject to planning permission, but it’s a state-of-the-art facility that allows young people to live and work independently.

“My understanding is that this is currently being provided out of county.

“They recognised that there’s a need for an in county provision.

“Subject to planning permission and getting the building done, we’re looking at an autumn term start.”

County Hall says the number of students being educated out of the county is likely to remain unchanged, but with numbers increasing, the facility will be crucial.

A spokesman said: “The drive for this project isn’t about benefits for the council, it is about the benefits for these young people.

“Through these specialist units young people will for the first time in Bucks be able to access bespoke individualised full time learning programmes without having to move them away from their families, communities and friends.”