A DEAL has been struck over the site where a new special educational needs school will be based.

Essex County Council has agreed to lease land from New Rickstones Academy in Conrad Road, Witham, for 125 years as it puts the finishing touches to the proposed Chatten Free School plans.

The specialist school will cater for up to 75 children with complex autism and will be run by the Market Field Learning Partnership, which is based in Elmstead Market.

Bosses at County Hall have given the all-clear to enter into a legal agreement with New Rickstones Academy over the leasing of the site.

It is hoped formal plans will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

A county council spokesman said: “The construction of the new school building will be fully funded by the Department for Education after Essex County Council agreed to enter a 125-year lease for the land.

“A public consultation took place with the local community at Southview school in Witham on May 9 last year.

“The planning application is due to be made with the County Planning Authority on June 21 with a decision anticipated by the end of September 2019.

“Subject to planning permission being granted, construction is expected to commence on site in early 2020 with completion the following summer.”

Members of the public will be able to have their say on the plans once an application is formally submitted.

The county council has also announced world renowned developer ISG has been awarded the contract to build the school, which will be named after former Market Field School student Brad Chatten.

Speaking about the proposed facility earlier this year, the county council’s education boss Ray Gooding said the demand for special needs school places in the county was constantly rising.

He added: “We are determined to meet that need even though these are financially straitened times.

“These exciting projects underline Essex’s desire to become an outstanding provider of education to all of its children and young people.”