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MERTHYR TYDFIL: Site and layout for new school to be decided

MERTHYR TYDFIL: Site and layout for new school to be decided

Image: LDRS

The site and layout for the new Catholic school in Merthyr Tydfil is set to be decided.

A special cabinet meeting of Merthyr Tydfil Council on Wednesday, May 26 will be asked to approve option two for the new 3-16 school.

In September 2019, following two consultations, the council approved the proposal to close St Aloysius Roman Catholic (RC) Primary, St Illtyd’s RC Primary and St Mary’s RC Primary schools and Bishop Hedley RC High School (BHHS) from September 2022, creating a 3-16 all through  Catholic school.

Following a feasibility study of the land south of the “Greenie” west of Galon Uchaf Road and the current Bishop Hedley High School upper and lower sites as potential preferred sites, two viable site options were taken out to consultation in November 2020 for three weeks.

In January 2021, following a review of these consultation responses, the local
authority approved the land south of the “Greenie” west of Galon Uchaf Road as the site for the purpose of building the new school.

Willmott Dixon Construction were chosen to design the scheme and were requested to undertake further works in response to the initial consultation feedback and consider the best solutions for the positioning of the school building, traffic management, drop-off and parking and sports facilities.

As a result of the additional scoping works, other options for the proposed site of the school were brought forward for consultation.

These included:

  •  Option 1 is a further development of the approved option A from the initial
    consultation in November 2020, now with all car parking and drop-off facilities on the same side of the road as the school building. There would still be proposed shared use of one of the community playing fields, enhanced to an all-weather facility, and with car parking provided for community access out of school hours.
  • Option 2 is an alternative configuration of the whole site, the school building now being located on the current Greenie playing fields with both playing fields relocated to the southern end of the site. One of the playing fields would be a shared all weather facility, and the other field would be accessible to the community at all times.

A public consultation took place from Friday, April 23 to Friday, May 7 and option two was the preferred option overall and for each group of respondents except for the local community representatives including Gurnos FC who preferred option one and have specific concerns and requirements if option two is implemented specifically around access to the 3G pitch, changing rooms and parking facilities.

The cabinet report said residents are split on the options depending on their view regarding which configuration is likely to impact on them the most.

Overall, residents slightly prefer option two to option one (40% to 36%) but for both options, the majority of residents view the proposals as less than satisfactory and 24% indicated that neither option is preferable.

But 36% of residents who responded do consider option two as
more than satisfactory and this options scores more favourably than option one, the report said.

The school community prefer option two to option one by a ratio of two to one.

There will be further consideration of the traffic impact assessment and Gurnos FC access and use requirements to the proposed shared community pitch before any final decision to build on the site is made.

Design development to address concerns identified through the consultation and mitigate risks will also continue if approval is given by cabinet.

The required 15% local authority match funding for the project is secured within the council’s Medium Term Financial Plan and Welsh Government approvals have been provided within the Band B programme.

Project budget reviews are required and extra funds will be requested as part of the aspiration to develop a zero-carbon school.

A subsequent report will be required to seek approvals once this detail is known and a report will also be brought back to consider extra funds required to enable the relocation of community facilities in option two.

Planning permission for the scheme that is designed will be sought before the end of the calendar year and if approved building will start in January 2022.

Words: Anthony Lewis, Local Democracy Reporter

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