A FORMER ‘gentleman’s residence’ in Dorchester could be converted to an independent school for children with additional needs.

Maen House, in Maen Gardens off Culliford Road North, could be converted for up to 30 pupils, some with learning disabilities or autism.

An application paper with the change of use application says that it could have 25 full-time staff and a small number of part-time posts.

It plans to be open from 8.30am until 4.30pm Monday to Friday and has adjoining car parking for a dozen vehicles.

The application, which will be decided by Dorset Council, comes from Potens, a national social care and education provider, which currently operators a small, independent school, Arbour House in Weymouth, for students aged 6-18 with special educational needs including learning disabilities and autism.

It says that it hopes to offer 1-1 tuition for students from about 12 years old at Maen House, which will not see any external changes to the building as a result of the move.

The company says that it is mindful of the potential impact of having a school in a residential area but says that the building is a minimum of 50metres away from the nearest home, that it will only be open on weekdays until 4.30pm and that the school yard will be at the back of the building, further away from other properties.

The company says it also hopes to create links with other schools in the area with its pupils making use of facilities, such as the library and public parks, within walking distance in the town centre.

Several residents in Maen Gardens and nearby Lancaster Road have written to Dorset Council expressing their concerns about additional traffic and noise and a potential loss of privacy although some welcome the proposed use for the building.

Several have suggested that a link from the site straight onto Culliford Road might ease any traffic problems with others suggesting new waiting restrictions to ensure traffic continues to flow as vehicles come off the nearby crossroads.