A MAJOR conversion programme is being carried out to bring Lancashire's only school for autistic children to the Ribble Valley.

The former Woodville Centre special school, on the road between Longridge and Ribchester, is to become the new home for the autism school which will eventually cater for up to 60 children from all over the county.

The Hillside Centre, which is currently in Lancaster, will be moving lock, stock and barrel to its new Ribble Valley home.

The new centre will mean bigger and better facilities for more pupils with autism, a form of mental illness which prevents children from making proper responses to their environment.

More than £350,000 worth of building work on the Woodville Centre is expected to be finished in December and the new pupils and staff are hoping to be in their new "home" early in the new year.

The new centre will have special areas for the younger children, play rooms and technology rooms.

Head teacher Joan Peacock said: "At the moment we have 25 day pupils between the ages of two and 16.

"When we move to the Ribble Valley we will be able to increase our number gradually up to 60.

"The new site will mean much easier access for children from East Lancashire and much better facilities for all our children.

"We are looking forward to coming to the Ribble Valley."

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