Machynlleth school plans would jeopardise other projects in county
Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter
Other school building projects in Powys will be put in jeopardy if the full campus proposal for Machynlleth’s Ysgol Bro Hyddgen went ahead, councillors were told.
At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Learning and Scrutiny committee on Wednesday, September 28, councillors looked at scaled down proposals for a new school building in Machynlleth.
Originally a Strategic Outline Case and Outline Business Case for the new school building which included a library and leisure facilities was estimated to cost £48million in November 2020 by the Welsh Government.
Given the current economic climate the cost of this proposal is calculated to be up to £66 million and now deemed unaffordable by the council.
The major changes to the scheme is that all through school from three to 18 years old would now be for 540 pupils rather than 620, and that leisure facilities would no longer be part of the proposals.
Whether the library or “community space” part of the scheme goes ahead or not, will be down to the results of a future consultation with Machynlleth residents.
The new proposals would cost £49.12 million with 65 per cent – £31.37 million coming from the Welsh Government, and the remaining 35 per cent – £16.89 million from Powys.
‘Pragmatic way forward’
Interim director of corporate services, Emma Palmer said: “This provides a pragmatic way forward, that allows the town to have a new build school.
“The wider impact for us is that if we do put all of the funds to the level of a full campus, we will not have sufficient funds to honour the commitments of the previous cabinet in other areas of the county.
“We would need to find additional capital in order to complete the other schemes – we need to be clear on that.”
However, some councillors remained bullish and believed that the full proposal should still go ahead.
Cllr Aled Davies said: “This is a 50-year investment and it’s important to understand the lifetime costs.”
Lifetime costs of how the new school building would be managed and maintained vary with the options.
The option without leisure facilities would cost £25.41 million for a 55-year period (year four to 59).
With a leisure facility it would cost £34.49million over the 55-year period.
Cllr Davies believed that the option with leisure facilities would provide a “far more efficient building.”
He urged the council to speak to the Welsh Government to try and find more funding for the scheme.
But officers explained that obstacle to getting more money through a Welsh Government pot for green zero carbon buildings is that the swimming pool in the original scheme would hinder the proposal.
Cllr Adam Kennerley said: “Co-location is something we should be trying to achieve it’s unfortunate it has the unintended consequences of upsetting the funding formula.”
Cllr Bryn Davies said: “We should recommend an approach to the Welsh Government and explain these unintended consequences and make an enquiry if we can realise this better option.”
A list of recommendations from the committee will be included in the report on the project which will be decided by the Powys cabinet on October 11.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.