Plans for new Welsh medium primary school in Rhondda Fach approved
Anthony Lewis, local democracy reporter
A new primary school in the Rhondda Fach has been given the go ahead by councillors.
The council’s plans to build a new school for Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llyn y Forwyn on an industrial estate in Ferndale were approved by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s planning committee on Thursday, December 15.
The application is to build the new school on the site of the former Chubb factory and will provide a new Welsh-medium primary school to replace the existing school.
The new school will accommodate up to 270 pupils and this includes a Cylch Meithrin (pre-school) facility which can accommodate up to 30 pupils.
The planning report said that the site is currently empty and was formerly home to Chubb Fire & Security.
It said that the factory opened in 1950 and during its occupation was used in the provision and development of fire-fighting equipment.
The factory closed in 2005. All of the buildings have now been removed and only the concrete bases remain while “nature has attempted to reclaim the site.”
The planning committee report said that the existing school is located around 2.4 km to the south-east of the proposed site.
It said that the applicant (the council) has said that the relocation of the school to the proposed development site “will allow for an improved education provision, with the larger site area providing the opportunity to offer both indoor and outdoor high-quality learning facilities.”
The report also said that a contributing factor for the relocation of the school (as opposed to a redevelopment of the existing site) was that there would be a dedicated “drop-off / pick-up” area which is unavailable at present leading to issues of local congestion.
The area for buses is proposed to be a “one-way” system designed to maximise highway and pedestrian safety and allow a smooth operation.
An extra car park is proposed at the eastern part of the site specifically for use by parents to park while dropping off and picking up their children from school reducing the need for vehicles to be parked on Maerdy Road within the Industrial Estate.
The report said that it is considered that the availability of parking will best ensure that it causes no disruption to the occupiers of the neighbouring industrial estate.
Play areas will be located to the south of the school building including a Football Association of Wales Under 9/10s sports-grass pitch, a Multi-use Games Area (MUGA), soft and hard play areas and an ecological habitat.
The Cylch Meithryn will have its own separate play space and so would the nursery.
The same access for vehicles will be kept but a new, main pedestrian access is proposed directly from Highfield.
A new section of public footpath will be built on the northern side of Highfield, between the existing bus stop and the pedestrian access.
A new pedestrian crossing is also proposed across Highfield, adjacent to the pedestrian access.
The development will include 30 car parking spaces for staff, which includes two accessible parking spaces and three visitor spaces and 40 car parking spaces will be provided for parents to use during pick-up and drop-off times.
Boost to biodiversity
It would also include 24 cycle parking spaces and 12 scooter parking spaces.
The proposals will also include ecological enhancement measures including for hedgehog, bats and birds and there will be a landscape strategy with work to boost the biodiversity and ecology of the area.
There was one letter of concern and objection received which said that the location of the pedestrian crossing outside Highfield House is a major concern and that the (excessive) speed of traffic through Ffaldau Terrace is too great for a child crossing the road at this point.
It said that the creation of a crossing at Ffaldau Terrace would erode the amount of available on-street parking adding that there isn’t enough car parking availability in this area.
But the objector did go on to say that the “school looks fantastic” – however the location of the crossing means that there is an objection to the scheme as a whole.
Planning officers at the council recommended the plans for approval saying: “The proposal represents a significant investment/improvement in the education facilities for the area.
“While the choice of site has its challenges, it represents one of a very limited opportunity to provide a facility of this size and scale within the local communities.
“While the loss of land allocated for industry is regrettable, the development does not occupy the entire industrial allocation and it has been demonstrated that the site has had limited interest for redevelopment since the closure of the former Chubb factory (and its subsequent demolition).
“Accordingly, the site warrants consideration for appropriate alternative uses.
“The design of the school is both modern and attractive and will represent a significant visual improvement within the village(s).
“Some concern exists in respect of locating a school where existing industrial uses are still in operation, especially in respect of highway safety and noise however, following consultation responses received as part of the application, it is, on balance, considered acceptable.”
Councillor Susan Morgans, who represents Ferndale and Maerdy on the council, said: “Llyn y Forwyn has been in desperate need of a new school for numerous years.
“The building is not cost effective, in bad repair and not fit for purpose and the location of the new school would be an excellent position as far as I’m concerned.”
She said it will tick all the boxes on parking, it’s on a bus route, new cycling and walking routes have been planned so more children will be able to walk there because the existing school is in a built up area and there’s a problem with parking.
Cllr Morgans said it would be an ideal position for the school and given that the council tries to promote Welsh medium education as much as it can she’s sure the school would do that and be an opportunity to increase numbers in the area.
Fellow Ferndale and Maerdy councillor and member of the planning committee Councillor Jayne Smith said it’s going to provide excellent facilities for the children.
Another committee member Councillor Ross Williams said it’s a fantastic looking building and if they want the next generation to thrive they’ve got to give them the best infrastructure and facilities to do so.
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