Major plans for new Blessed Carlo Acutis school in South Wales approved

MAJOR plans for a new Catholic school in Merthyr Tydfil have been given planning approval by councillors.

The application for the demolition of the current Bishop Hedley school (except the existing sports hall) and the construction of a new building went before Merthyr Tydfil Council’s planning and development committee on Wednesday, October 18th and were approved.

The council is looking to create a new all-through 3 to 16 school called Blessed Carlo Acutis to replace the existing St Aloysius RC Primary School, the Federation of St Illtyd’s RC, St Mary’s RC Primary School and Bishop Hedley School.

The proposed school will accommodate a primary school with 525 places, a nursery with  100 full-time equivalent places and a secondary school with 600 places.

The proposals also include sports facilities with the extension of the existing sports hall and new sports pitches and associated landscaping, access and engineering works with new vehicle access and parking and drop-off areas, a temporary staff car park, a construction compound, classrooms during construction and improvements to pedestrian access, as well as highway improvements to Galon Uchaf Road and Gwaunfarren Road.

“The new all through school will accommodate a 525-pupil place primary school with 100 full time equivalent pupil place nursery, and a 600 pupil (4 form entry) secondary school,” said architects DPP Planning.

“The new 3-16 VA Catholic School is to be designed to deliver the Welsh Government’s new Curriculum for Wales and the design proposals are to consider use outside of school hours, allowing the school to act as a supportive hub of the local community.”

The report said given the complex site levels, the northern part would accommodate the main development and is split into a primary wing to the north (two storeys), shared wing in the centre (three storeys) and a secondary wing to the south (part three and four-storey). The shared space in the centre of the building would include a chapel, shared kitchen and community room.

The primary wing would be made up of nursery and primary classrooms and the secondary wing would be made up of classrooms and a dining hall. A number of designated outdoor play areas would be provided to the north and east of the school building.

The southern part of the site would be used mainly for sports facilities and car parking. To the west of the proposed school building, a new drop-off parking area with 31 parking spaces and five disabled bays would be provided, along with a lay-by for two mini-buses. This would be accessed from Galon Uchaf Road and would operate a one-way system.

The main car park located in the southern part of the site would accommodate 98 spaces, which includes three disabled bays, 14 electric vehicle spaces and seven spaces reserved for car share. The main car park would have a drop-off area with links to the pedestrian underpass and drop-off lay-bys would be provided on either side of Gwaunfarren Road, which can accommodate a total of 27 cars.

In terms of cycling, there would be 28 spaces within a sheltered area close to the nursery wing and 28 spaces in a sheltered area near the secondary wing. A further 56 cycle spaces would be provided in the southern part of the site, adjacent to the main car park.

Extensive planting would be introduced to provide a mixture of woodland areas, hedgerow planting, shrub planting, establish areas of wild flower grassland and planting which forms part of a sustainable drainage solution for the site, the report said. To enable the phased development of the site, it is proposed that temporary classrooms would be introduced in a car park area while construction works take place. A temporary drop-off and pick-up area would be provided.

Following the completion of the development, the green open space would be restored to its former use and enhanced with wild flower planting, the planning report said.

There was one objection to the application which said the temporary compound would include a new access/entrance on to Galon Uchaf Road, which is fast and busy road and has no traffic calming measures and that the additional traffic raises highway safety concerns. It also raised ground stability and water run-off concerns about Buttercup Field, which could destabilise the ground and affect properties in Billingham Cresent.

But the report said site investigations do not highlight any significant stability concerns that may otherwise prevent the use of the temporary car park and it is not anticipated that the proposed temporary car park would give rise to significant stability concerns that may effect the neighbouring properties. It also said appropriate drainage systems would need to be implemented to ensure any water run-off from the temporary car park is appropriately managed and the final drainage scheme would be agreed as part of a separate sustainable drainage application.

Story by William Kelly, The Catholic Network