As part of the 21st Century Schools programme, Flintshire County Council are planning for a new single-site school in Penyffordd. The new school will be built on the site of the existing Abbots Lane Infants School and will accommodate children from the Ysgol Penyffordd junior school site on Penymynydd Road.
The new school will accommodate 315 pupils plus nursery places.
During the consultation and planning phase, the Community Council have been vocal in expressing concern about three aspects of the project:
1. The design and materials proposed
In the initial consultation, the designs revealed a flat roofed building in grey with red and yellow panels. Following our feedback, public feedback and comments from the Design Council Wales, a revised design was prepared with a pitched roof and more natural appearing materials. The Community Council and most people are happier with this proposal.
2. Road access to the site
The road access to the existing school is already a problem and many residents are extremely concerned about the future with the significant increase in the number of pupils attending.
Following pressure in the consultation, the construction company involved commissioned a traffic survey, which made some recommendations but some people believe it did not fully represent that reality of traffic around the site. The Community Council have been consistent in supporting a solution which requires a number of different approaches to the problem:
- increase in the number of pick up / drop off spaces at the school from the 5 initially proposed
- introduction of a school travel plan to encourage more children to walk or cycle to school
- changes in behaviour of parent / carers in being more considerate in the way they park - preferably using the Red Lion car park and walking in.
- changes to the roads with the addition of non-parking zones
- addition of a new pedestrian crossing on Rhos Road
- compulsory 20mph speed limits past the school access roads on Rhos Road and Vounog Hill, as well as Abbotsford Drive and Wats Road.
Some of these measures are recommended in the planning application (extending zigzag lines to cover the new pedestrian entrance to the school) and repainting the fake speed humps of Abbotsford Drive.
Changes in behaviour is referenced in the traffic report but the expectation is for a reduction in the number of children travelling by car from 60% to 50%.
The pedestrian crossing is referenced in the traffic report but not the planning application, because it is up to highways whether to make that change.
The Council have not responded on the 20mph speed limits or increasing the number of drop off spaces.
3. Phase 2 (the extension) in the initial planning application
We disagree with Flintshire County Council on including the Phase 2 plans in the initial planning application for 3 reasons:
- no visuals, plans or intention to submit phase 2 were included in the pre-consultation documents or meetings with the stakeholders or public
- the increased capacity could influence the assessment of the sustainability of Penyffordd for further housing growth, at a time when the community are fighting multiple planning applications and the Local Development Plan process is at a critical stage.
- the design of the extension, as illustrated on the visualisations is particularly unattractive and it may be possible or appropriate in 15 years time, when it might be expected to be needed, that there will be a better understanding of the needs of the school as well as new design and construction techniques and materials available.
The school is expected to go before the planning committee in early 2018. The intention is to start building during 2018 and be complete ready for the new school term in September 2019.
The existing Abbots Lane school will continue to operate while construction is underway and the Community Council are satisfied with the reassurances of Flintshire and Wynne Construction about the safe access of site traffic during that period.