MTCBC 3-16 Catholic School Site Consultation Jan 2022 – Feb 2022
Consultation to select the site for the new 3-16 Voluntary Aided (VA) Catholic School.
The Council considered a report on the results of the consultation including appendices containing updated information on the options consulted on, as well as feasibility information on the alternative sites suggested as part of the consultation.
The full Council report and all appendices can be accessed via the following link Agenda for Full Council on Tuesday, 7th December, 2021, 5.30 pm (merthyr.gov.uk)
Most of the alternative sites suggested are not feasible sites for the 3-16 school for reasons provided in the report to Council (see sections 5.29, 5.30 and Appendix 3). However, the most popular suggestion was to use the existing Bishop Hedley High School (BHHS) sites, both Phase 1 (Lower site) and Phase 2 (Upper site) and a detailed feasibility study of these sites has been carried out and included as part of the Council report (See Appendices 4 and 6). The conclusion to these feasibility studies, as detailed in 9.7 and 9.8 of the Council report is that the existing BHHS sites can be used to accommodate the 3-16 school provided that one of the Buttercup Fields is used to provide a grass sports pitch for secondary aged pupils.
The report also explains that the previous Option 1 – Buttercup Fields has been discounted by Council following further detailed ground and site investigations, updated risk appraisals and evaluation of options against project critical success factors, including significant risks to its viability. This option, which was also the least popular of the two options in the previous consultation, has been removed from further consideration for the 3-16 school.
The two revised options now proposed are:
- Option A – Greenie, with additional open space on current BHHS phase 2.
This is the previous Option 2 with changes made in response to the previous consultation.
The changes are:
- The community playground would be relocated but near to the current community MUGA.
- The community changing rooms would be relocated to the Buttercup Fields next to the community grass pitch and shared third generation synthetic surface (3G) pitch.
- An additional green space community facility has been included on Phase 2 (Upper Site) of the current Bishop Hedley High School site. A question has been included in the consultation survey to gather the community’s views regarding the potential use of this area as a community space.
- Safe pedestrian route provided from the location of the current Greenie playing fields to the Buttercup Fields and new community space on the BHHS Phase 2 site.
As per the option previously consulted on, the school building with car parking and drop-off would be located on the Greenie playing fields, with both fields relocated to the Buttercup fields. One of the playing fields would be a shared school/community 3G football pitch, and the other would be open access to the community.
- Option B – Current BHHS site with school rugby pitch on one of the Buttercup Fields. This is a brand new option. The school building and primary drop off and primary play areas located on Phase 2 of the current Bishop Hedley High School site, with car parking, sports hall and sports pitches on Phase 1 of the current Bishop Hedley High School Site. A school rugby pitch to be located on plateau 2 of the Buttercup Fields.
Welsh Government requires that the school is built in line with the timescales of the 21st Century Schools Band B Programme i.e. by 2026, and as detailed in the Council report there are no other viable sites to deliver the 3-16 school at this time therefore the Council has agreed to carry out a new public consultation, on these revised proposals for the siting of Merthyr Tydfil’s new single all-through 3-16 Voluntary Aided (VA) Catholic school.
Playing Fields - Community Involvement in Disposal Decisions
This new consultation is being undertaken in line with the regulations set out in the Playing Fields (Community Involvement in Disposal Decisions) (Wales) Measure 2010 and the Playing Fields (Community Involvement in Disposal Decisions) (Wales) Regulations 2015, and gives everyone an opportunity to comment on the revised proposals and help support a final Council decision on the location of the school buildings and playing fields.
In line with the requirements of the above regulations the Local Authority has conducted an impact assessment which evaluates the impact that the proposals would have on the Local Development Plan (LDP), Cwm Taf Well-being Plan, the Merthyr Play Opportunity Sufficiency Assessment and the MTCBC Open Spaces Strategy and Open Spaces Action Plan.
The full impact assessment can be accessed at the following link https://www.merthyr.gov.uk/media/7459/disposal-of-playing-fields-impact-assessment.pdf but a summary has been provided below.
It has been determined that the LDP and Open Spaces Strategy & Action Plan would be impacted should Option A – Greenie with additional open space on current BHHS phase 2 be chosen, however, any negative impact would be mitigated by the plans proposed, and the play opportunities for children in the local area would remain very similar to the current position with a potential positive impact subject to the development of the additional open space provided on the existing BHHS phase 2 site.
The mitigation is as follows:
Although the community playground would be relocated, it would remain in the open space next to the current MUGA and it would provide upgraded equipment.
Both sports pitches are to be located to the Buttercup Fields. One would be a grass pitch on plateau 1 in a newly designated open space and the other would be a shared school/community all-weather, floodlit pitch, on plateau 2 within the school grounds. This shared pitch would be accessible to the community for organised use of the facility.
Also, in recognition of the overall reduction of protected open space, additional open space is to be created on the existing BHHS Phase 2 (Upper) site, and would be developed in line with community responses, which is supportive of the Cwm Taf Well-being Plan to encourage communities to take ownership of local green spaces.
The relocation and improvement of playground and playing pitch facilities as well as the additional open space provided on the BHHS site is viewed as having a positive impact on the play opportunities for children in the local area. As part of the proposals a safe walking route to the new community green space on the current BHHS sites would be included to ensure this space is safely accessible to children and families.
If Option B were chosen, the impact on all plans and strategies would be neutral, as there would be no change to priority open spaces or the play opportunities for children in the area.
The 21st Century Schools Band B Programme is a major capital investment programme in schools and colleges across Wales that is running from 2019 to 2026. Projects are typically funded by a mixture of Welsh Government Grant and Council funds. Voluntary aided school projects such as this 3-16 school, are funded 85% with WG grant monies and 15% from Council funds.
Cwm Taf Wellbeing Plan 2018-23 is created by the Public Services Board and sets out objectives to improve wellbeing in the communities of Cwm Taf. The Plan is based on a wellbeing assessment conducted with the public to ensure public concerns are addressed.
The Merthyr Play Opportunity Sufficiency Assessment is an assessment of the availability and quality of play opportunities for children and young people in Merthyr. This can be found on the Council website.
The MTCBC Open Spaces Strategy highlights the types of important open spaces in Merthyr and additional open spaces needed in the Borough. The Open Spaces Action Plan notes quantity, quality and accessibility of open spaces in each ward in Merthyr.
The new consultation is being run for 6 weeks from Thursday 6th of January 2022 to Thursday 17th February 2022 and the consultation documents can be accessed either online via the following link https://www.merthyr.gov.uk/vaschool or, alternatively, hard copies of the consultation documents can be requested from the Council, either by telephoning 01685 725000 or emailing email@example.com.
A Freepost envelope will also be included with hard copies of the consultation document for easy return. An online version of the hard copy consultation document you will receive can be found below.
Please complete the survey online using the link above or via hard copy and return to the Council marked FAO 3-16 School Project.
Once all consultation responses have been received a report will be taken to Full Council to agree which site to take forward to a detailed design stage. Once the approved option has been fully designed, a statutory planning consultation will be undertaken. Subject to then receiving planning permission and final approvals from Welsh Government, Council will take a final decision to commence the project build, with construction currently estimated to begin on site between February and May 2023.
In addition to the consultation survey pack, please see below Consultation Notice and alternative view of Site Plans and S278 Highways drawings with explanations and hard copy consultation pack which can be viewed in more detail.