New school gets the green light despite ‘unimaginative and uninspiring’ design
Saul Cooke-Black, local democracy reporter
Plans for a new school serving 1,900 pupils aged three-19 have won the backing of Monmouthshire council planners, despite concerns raised over the designs of the development.
The proposed new all-through school on the current site of King Henry VIII School in Abergavenny will include flying-start, a nursery, lower school, upper school and sixth form.
The new development, previously estimated to cost £50 million, will replace King Henry VIII and Deri View schools, and is intended to be completed in time for September 2024.
Council planners have recommended approval of the plans ahead of a decision being made by county councillors next week, despite some concerns about the designs.
Abergavenny Town Council, although saying it does not “fundamentally object”, has raised several concerns about the application.
In its representation, it says town councillors were “unimpressed with the overall design of the school, describing it as unimaginative and uninspiring as a centre of learning for the 21st century”.
Town councillors also said there was “no time to fully consider” a pre-application public consultation on the plans, as well as voicing “strong reservations” about traffic management proposals.
Abergavenny and District Civic Society described the proposed new buildings as ‘functional’, but they said ‘disappointingly’ the designs have “no special architectural quality”.
However, the society says the benefits of the development “probably outweigh the environmental costs”.
A council report recommending approval says the design of the new school “although necessarily functional in appearance, will be a vast improvement on the existing school”.
It says the proposals “would substantially improve the design quality of buildings on site and would create a high-quality place”.
Under the plans, the existing King Henry VIII school will be demolished to make way for the new school which will be made up of two separate buildings – the three-storey lower school for pupils up to year four, and the three-storey upper school for pupils from years five-13.
Facilities will include sports pitch provision, forest school areas, play areas and landscaping.
New spaces will also be available for community use, including a sports hall, sports pitches and classrooms for adult education.
The plans show that the lower school will be located close to a stream and woodland, to allow for a supervised forest school.
A new public pedestrian and cycle route is also proposed across the site.
Monmouthshire council’s planning committee will decide the plans at a meeting on Wednesday, June 8.
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