Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
Plans to create a new Welsh-medium primary school in Wrexham have been given the go ahead, subject to a review of traffic measures being carried out.
Members of Wrexham Council’s planning committee held a virtual meeting yesterday (Monday, 1 February) to discuss proposals to transform the existing Borras Park Community Primary School site.
The application was recommended for approval by a senior officer in the face of objections from neighbours and community leaders over traffic and parking problems in the area.
The scheme will result in the current infant school being remodelled to establish a new Welsh medium school for 210 children.
Meanwhile, the junior school building will be refurbished and expanded to accommodate all pupils being taught in English.
Concerns were raised early in the meeting over the impact on existing road safety issues near the school after local councillor Mike Davies highlighted the results of a recent speed survey.
He said: “During the period of the survey, approximately 18.7 per cent of those vehicles recorded were travelling in excess of the 20 mile per hour speed limit.
“In case you haven’t got your calculators handy, that equates to 1,022 cars per day travelling over the speed limit.
“Are we really happy with 1,000 cars a day speeding past a site which will potentially house over 700 primary school children, as well as having a busy row of shops.
“With these figures, I’m not just making them up. Government figures show speeds on speed humps are usually 12 to 16 miles per hour so there’s obviously a problem.”
The independent councillor called for the current road chicanes outside the school to be removed as he said drivers were speeding up to get through them.
Cllr Davies asked for illuminated speed limit signs to be installed instead, alongside the existing road humps, to deter people from going too fast.
Borras Park councillor Debbie Wallice spoke out against the proposals for similar reasons.
She said: “I’d like to put on record that I welcome the proposal for a new Welsh medium school in the Wrexham area.
“It is vital we do everything we can to support and grow the number of Welsh speakers in our Wrexham community.
“But I do have several reservations regarding the planning proposal and therefore I’m unable to support in its current form.”
Cllr Wallice said both she and Cllr Davies had been contacted by a number of residents concerned about the implications on traffic and parking.
However, a senior officer backed the scheme for approval as he said measures would be introduced to reduce the impact, including staggered start times for each school, extra parking spaces and car sharing arrangements.
Cllr Paul Pemberton’s recommendation that the plans should be approved subject to the traffic calming measures being reviewed was approved by ten votes to six at the end of the debate.
Labour councillors on Wrexham Council’s planning committee have been criticised for voting against the plans for the new Welsh-medium school.
Councillor Gwenfair Jones, who sits on the planning committee and spoke up in favour of the school, said: “It was disappointing to see Labour councillors voting against a new Welsh-medium school in Borras.
“A decade ago, it was Labour councillors in Gwersyllt who led the opposition to Ysgol Bro Alyn and they don’t seem to be able to accept there is growing demand for Welsh-medium education in the borough.
“The popularity of Ysgol Bro Alyn is such that pupils living just a mile from the school are unable to gain admission and I honestly believe this will be the case in Borras too – it will be a local school.
“I know there are concerns about congestion on the nearby roads but the reality is that parents from Borras currently have to drive their children to Ysgol Plas Coch or Ysgol Bodhyfryd if they want primary school education in Welsh. That adds to the traffic.”
The council previously said the new school would be opened in September to meet the demand for Welsh-medium education in the area.