THE new special school at Newsome has been given the go-ahead.

Kirklees councillors have passed the plan to close Highfields Special School in Edgerton and Turnshaws Special School in Kirkburton and join them together at the new Castle Hill School due to be built on land next to Newsome Junior School.

Both special schools cater for pupils with severe learning difficulties.

The aim is to start work on the site - now a rugby pitch next to Newsome Road South - this summer and open the school in September 2005.

Councillors at yesterday's planning committee also passed plans to build a new school at Longley to replace Longley special school for children with medium learning difficulties.

Both new schools are part of a wider £25m scheme for about 600 special needs pupils.

Longley would cater for 156 youngsters and is due to be ready in September 2006.

Castle Hill has room for 108 pupils.

Objectors to the Longley scheme were worried that Longley Hall, the Victorian building currently housing the school, would fall into disrepair once empty.

But Michael Ruane, a technical advisor to Kirklees Council, said studies showed the building could be converted into flats.