Planners recommend approval for new £9 million special school
Elgan Hearn – Local Democracy Reporter
Councillors are set to discuss proposals for a brand new £9.1 million special school.
Plans to build the special school at land next Brynllywarch Hall on the outskirts of Kerry near Newtown will be discussed at a planning committee meeting next Thursday, January 11.
In May last year, the council lodged the application with itself for a replacement school, ancillary buildings, a MUGA sports surface, landscaping, and associated works.
Then in June, it emerged that the Welsh Government had been asked to “call in” the application.
This could see the application processed by planning inspectors at PEDW (Planning Environment Department Wales) with a recommendation on the scheme passed on to the Welsh Government climate change minister Julie James MS for announcement.
There have been objections made against the scheme which includes one by Kerry Community Council.
This is due to the new building being earmarked for greenfield land and questions about the future of Brynllywarch Hall which is a Grade II (two) listed building.
The hall, which dates from 1829, is considered “inadequate for modern education purposes.”
Kerry council believe that it “should be possible” to maintain the mansion and that additional modern school buildings should be built in an area that includes: “two vacant houses, various outbuildings and demountables.”
PEDW have still not indicated whether they will call in the application or not.
This means that any decision by councillors to back the scheme can’t be implemented unless PEDW decide not to call in the application and hand back control of the process to Powys planners.
Senior planning officer Richard Edwards explained that the application is in front of the committee as it is deemed a “major application.”
Mr Edwards said: “Community facilities such as village halls and schools are essential to the social and physical wellbeing of the community and support the vitality and viability of our rural settlements.
“The LDP (Local Development Plan) supports the provision of local facilities alongside improving access to existing facilities.”
Mr Edwards said that the council’s planning agent, Asbri Planning Limited have conducted a “sequential test” on the best site to select for the new building.
Mr Edwards said: “This process has determined the site subject to this application to be the most appropriate for the proposed development.
“The other available sites have been assessed and have been discounted for various strategic reasons.
“Therefore, officers consider that due consideration has been afforded
to the siting of the proposed school to ensure that adequate provisions for a modern teaching environment for Brynllywarch School is achieved.”
Mr Edwards goes on to recommend that councillors give the application conditional consent.
Mr Edwards added: “Should members approve the application then no decision shall be issued until confirmation has been received by the Welsh (Government)) Ministers.”
The council has also already approved a sustainable drainage application – that is needed before building work can start.
The Welsh Government have been asked to comment.
The case for the new school building was agreed by the previous Independent/Conservative cabinet in July 2020.
As part of the former 21st Century Schools Programme, now known as the Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme, the Welsh Government is expected to fund 75 per cent of the of the school construction project with the remaining 25 per being coming from the council.
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