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Scaled down plans for £49m new school campus in mid Wales get go-ahead

11 Oct 2022 3 minute read
Ysgol Bro Hyddgen Machynlleth. Picture: Google Street View.

Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

Scaled down plans for a £49 million new school campus at Machynlleth’s Ysgol Bro Hyddgen have been approved by councillors.

At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday, October 11, due to the spiralling costs of the scheme  councillors looked at revised proposals for the new school building.

Originally a Strategic Outline Case and Outline Business Case for the new school building which included a library and leisure facilities was estimated to cost £48million in November 2020 by the Welsh Government.

But that cost is now estimated to be £66 million.

Taking the leisure centre out of the project would take the cost back down to £49.12 million with 65 per cent of the costs – £31.37 million coming from the Welsh Government, and the remaining 35 per cent – £16.89 million from Powys.

Education portfolio holder, Cllr Pete Roberts said: “Ysgol Bro Hyddgen has been a long running issue for the council.”

He explained that the first Bro Hyddgen project had fallen foul of the collapse of construction firm Dawnus in 2019 which led to the revised and bigger proposals.

Following a second review it has been decided that due to the “increasing costs of construction” to downsize the scheme.

Cllr Roberts added: “We will leave open the option of the library moving into the site subject to consultation with the wider community in Machynlleth.”

He added that the existing leisure centre would be repaired and refurbishment “seeking funding outside” the 21st Century Schools programme.

Cllr Roberts added: “We have to be pragmatic.

“We need to move forward with something that can deliver a long overdue promise to the children of Bro Hyddgen.”

Plaid Cymru group leader and Bro Hyddgen chairman of governors, Cllr Elwyn Vaughan said: “The truth is this project has been dragging on for years, it is time for the sake of the community for us to put this into action.”

Cllr Vaughan added that the present school buildings are coming to the end of their lifespan and that “only last week” he had noticed rainwater seeping into them.

“There is a disappointment in regard to the lack of investment in the leisure centre, but there is a recognition we need a new campus as soon as possible,” said Cllr Vaughan.

Interim director of corporate services Emma Palmer stressed: “There is the other element of equity (of education) across the county.

“If we were to move forward with the former proposal, that has unintended consequences for funding other schemes.”

‘Significant cost’

Council leader, Cllr James Gibson-Watt said: “There’s significant cost involved with these projects at a time when the economic outlook is shaky to say the least.”

“I’m content we have found a way through this which is reasonable.”

Members of the Cabinet unanimously approved the report which means that the Strategic Outline Case and Outline Business Case for the project will now go to the Welsh Government to ask for the funding.

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