Councillors back £12 million expansion for Welsh medium school
Anthony Lewis, local democracy reporter
A £12m expansion of a Welsh medium secondary school has been approved by councillors.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s planning committee voted to approve the application for Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun in Penywaun in the Cynon Valley, at its meeting on Thursday, February 25, the council has confirmed.
It will involve the demolition of the current caretaker’s house and construction of teaching and sports facilities within the grounds of the existing school.
These include a new eight-classroom block with community rooms, drama and music facilities, along with a new school reception, sports hall, fitness suite and changing rooms.
The community will also be able to access some of these facilities, with segregation from pupils and a new parking area with 45 additional spaces will be included along with a bike storage area.
The £12.1m plans will include a 65 per cent funding contributions from Welsh Government via its 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme, and will increase Welsh medium places provided at the school by a total of 187, from 1,038 to 1,225.
One letter was received by the council from a local resident which raised a number of concerns over access to the school and whether there would be any changes, the impact on the sports playing fields in terms noise and use of flood lights and the impact upon neighbouring properties in terms of disturbances and devaluing of properties.
But in recommending approval, council planning officers said the proposal would provide a modern new building within the grounds of the existing school which forms part of the council’s 21st Century Schools programme.
They said: “It would enable an increase in the number of pupils at the school whilst also providing a much-needed community facility within the area.
“The existing school site is situated within the settlement boundary and within an established residential area where development is generally considered to be acceptable.
“The scale and design of the proposal is appropriate to the context of the existing school campus and it is not considered that it would have an adverse impact upon the character and appearance of the site or the surrounding area or upon the amenity and privacy of surrounding residential properties.”
They added: “Whilst the development would lead to an increase in pupil numbers, it is not considered that this would give rise to any significant increase in the level of noise and disturbance experienced by surrounding residents.
They said the existing access to the school would be kept with additional parking being provided within the site.
Officers added that the council’s highways and transportation department consider this to be an improvement to the current situation in that the development would address the existing shortfall in the car parking requirement for the existing school whilst also providing off-street car parking in accordance with supplementary planning guidance.