RhAG has called on Newport City Council’s Planning Committee to give their support for the construction of a new Welsh-medium secondary school on the Duffryn High School site, to open in September 2017.
Today, the committee will consider the submitted planning application, however, the LA planning officer has recommended that the application be refused on the basis of views submitted by Natural Resources Wales which refer to guidance set out in the TAN 15 (TAN 15), which states that the risk and consequences of flooding cannot be controlled on-site.
In a letter to members of the Planning Committee, Lynne Davies, National Chair of RhAG said,
“The proposed new Welsh-medium secondary school represents an answer that is absolutely vital, not only in terms of the Local Authority’s statutory duties and responsibilities but also in terms of the commitment, hopes, and expectations of Newport, South County Monmouth.
“The decision taken by the Cabinet back in July 2015, marked a historic day in the development of Welsh-medium education in Newport. Indeed, the new school is important not only in terms of its impact on the development of Welsh-medium education within the authority but also the positive impact it has on the vitality of the Welsh language in the surrounding area, the wider region and indeed in South East Wales.
“The growth of Welsh-medium education in Newport has been a tremendous success; this development represents the next chapter and will ensure the seamless progression needed to offer equality of opportunity to all pupils in Newport, to get top quality local education.
“Any decision not to proceed with the new Welsh-medium school on the Duffryn site would have serious consequences. Without this new school, Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw will be in full swing in 2016 and further delays to open the school would undermine the commitment of local authorities and their statutory responsibility to provide Welsh-medium education locally An increasing number of pupils have to travel out of the county to access Welsh-medium secondary education, and this is a considerable cost to the authority. There would also be an adverse impact on Duffryn High School, which would miss out on significant investment as part of the wider scheme.
“Parents of children in Newport and South Monmouthshire have already experienced significant uncertainty about Welsh-medium provision for their children who will start secondary school in September 2016. The announcement of the new school, the election of governing body and appointment headteacher has alleviated these fears – despite the proposal to locate the school in temporary accommodation for a year. The 80 children who applied to start the new school in September 2016 deserve a permanent and secure site for their school.
“We urge the local authority to approve this application, subject to working with the relevant agencies to ensure that adaptive measures are taken to mitigate any risk and that a robust flood management and evacuation plan is in place. its place as a matter of urgency, for the benefit of school communities at Duffryn High School, the new Welsh school and the wider local community.
“Newport City Council will break new ground with the opening of this new school, it is a valuable opportunity that cannot be missed.”