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New consultation launched on controversial plans for £22m school in the Swansea Valley

01 Dec 2022 3 minute read
Alltwen Primary School, Pontardawe, one of the schools threatened with closure by the plans.  Photo via Google

Lewis Smith, local democracy reporter

Proposals for a controversial new £22 million school in the Swansea Valley will go back out to consultation this month, despite a successful legal challenge against it earlier this year.

The plans for a new-build school for three to eleven-year-olds would see a centre based on a site at Parc Ynysderw, Pontardawe, and if given the go-ahead it would include a new school plan plus a new six-lane swimming pool, and specialist learning support centre.

The proposals say the new build school would accommodate 630 full-time pupils, alongside 140 part-time nursery age pupils, and would be funded jointly from Welsh Government Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme capital grant monies, and from the council’s prudential borrowing capacity.

It would aim to replace three Swansea Valley primary schools in the current catchment areas of Alltwen Primary, Godre’rgraig Primary and Llangiwg primary, all of which are set to close on August 31, 2025.

Last year, members of Neath Port Talbot Council’s cabinet approved these new school plans, however, they were challenged by a Welsh- medium education parents group named Rhieni Dros Addysg Gymraeg.

Welsh Language Impact Assessment

The challenge was brought on three grounds all relating to the notion that a Welsh Language Impact Assessment should have been consulted upon at the same time as the school consultation. The judgement was received in October, 2022 and the judge found in favour of the applicant on one of the three grounds.

As a result of this the councils new rainbow coalition decided to review the decision, with council education officials recommending a fresh round of consultations.

Council bosses who met at a cabinet meeting on November 30, have now granted the approval to begin this new round of consultations, starting on December 5, 2022.

Councillor Nia Jenkins, cabinet member for education, skills and training, said: “As a result of the successful judicial review challenge to last year’s decision to approve the new school and the rainbow coalition’s desire to review it we were asked to approve a new period of consultation.

“The new coalition made it clear from outset that it wished to review this decision made by the previous administration and we would now urge residents to make their feelings known in this fresh round of consultation.”

Consultation for the proposed school in Pontardawe is now due to take place between December 5, 2022, and January 24, 2023. Responses will be reported to the cabinet for consideration in February, 2023.

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