Support our Nation today - please donate here

School demolition works reveal asbestos on site

22 Feb 2024 3 minute read
Pontllanfraith Comprehensive School in June 2021. Photo via Google

Nicholas Thomas, local democracy reporter

The discovery of asbestos on the site of a demolished secondary school will add an additional £310,000 to the cost of clearing the site.

Demolition of Pontllanfraith Comprehensive School began in July 2023 but contractors discovered two areas of “abnormal” ground conditions, requiring “additional works” to resolve.

A Caerphilly Council report notes the “abnormal conditions relate to the discovery of asbestos cement sheets within substructures beneath the original school buildings”.

“These sheets were not identified during the preparatory asbestos survey due to their subterranean location,” according to the report. “It was only when the buildings were demolished and site clearance and regrading commenced that the asbestos was identified.”

Pupil referral unit

The school has been levelled to make way for a new Centre for Vulnerable Learners, a pupil referral unit for up to 120 learners.

Caerphilly Council said the centre will include “high-quality learning opportunities, indoor and outdoor sporting provision, as well as access to first-class support”.

Its sports facilities, including an all weather multi-use games area (MUGA) will also be available to the community outside of school hours.

On track

At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday February 21, Chris Morgan, the cabinet member for leisure, sought assurances the Centre for Vulnerable Learners project would remain on track.

Ben Winstanley, the council’s head of land and property, told him: “If we act now, there will be no impact on the programme.”

The council report said the asbestos “must be dealt with in a safe, compliant and timely manner in order to progress the development of the Centre for Vulnerable Learners”.

The cabinet went on to approve the release of £310,000 from the council’s uncommitted capital reserves to fund the clearance works.

Even with that extra spending, the project will remain within the original £1.26m budget allocated for demolition in 2017, because £470,000 of that money was returned to the council’s reserves the following financial year.

Eluned Stenner, the cabinet member for finance, told colleagues the additional work required at Pontllanfraith Comprehensive proved the council was correct to build financial reserves.

Cllr Stenner said she “can’t stress enough how important it is for this council” to maintain reserves “to deal with unforeseen problems”.

The council report noted the future of the nearby Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre and its 3G pitch – which are earmarked for closure – are unaffected by the situation at the comprehensive school site.

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.