Penarth Learning Community: Decision day, with planners set to decide tonight
ST CYRES headteacher Dr Jonathan Hicks is hoping that the school will be granted planning permission tonight (Thursday, September 6) - so that work can begin on the Penarth Learning Community project.
However nearby residents remain concerned about congestion and road safety, due to the siting of a new entrance off Sully Road.
The scheme would see the amalgamation of St Cyres with nearby special schools Erw’r Delyn and Ashgrove, as well as Barry’s Ysgol Maes Dyfan, all based on a single campus and becoming the Penarth learning Community.
If permission is granted, a boundary fence will be put up around the development site, with work set to begin in October and finish by October 2014. The fence will have windows so that students can see each stage of the development.
Pupils returning to St Cyres this week have been greeted by four new temporary classrooms, and the old swimming pool has been converted into an additional classroom to accommodate the influx of 270 students from the former Dinas Powys site.
Dr Hicks, who joined the school in 2002, welcomed the potential redevelopment.
"It's going to be fantastic," he said.
"Children deserve a better learning environment and we can provide that by the way we teach and use our resources.
"We can kit out each classroom to a very high standard, so rather than spending money on leaking roofs, we can spend it on additional resources.
"The children are tremendously excited," he added.
"Everyone knows it's going to be a fantastic resource. We will also have proper facilities for all our shows and drama productions."
Dr Hicks said that all the funding for the project has been secured, and all they are now waiting on is planning permission.
The plans are recommended for approval - but nearby residents, the Vale Council Highway Development Team and Dinas Powys Community Council have all raised ‘major concerns’ about the volume of traffic that will be using the surrounding road network.
81 letters have been sent to the council raising concerns, as well as a petition with 231 signatures objecting to the proposals for an entrance to the new school being situated off Sully Road. Margaret Davies, who lives on Erw’r Delyn Close off Sully Road, said: "The plans for the school are fine, it is the access that is our man concern.
"We are concerned about safety of access for both residents and pupils, and anyone else using the road, such as horse riders and cyclists. It’s bound to be a problem as this is a country lane."
The Highways Development Team said there were ‘major highway concerns’ and that ‘the level of congestion and delay in the vicinity of the Merrie Harrier and Redlands Road / Sully Road junctions will increase’.
In an effort to alleviate road safety concerns the plans outline the installation of a 20mph zone, speed humps and a toucan crossing on Sully Road. There is also set to be an extended yellow box on Redlands Road, plus improvements to the existing Ash Path.
Dr Hicks said the measures would improve the safety of pupils crossing Sully Road from the Ash Path, and he added that cars would be coming off Sully Road road earlier than they do now, as they would be using the school car park to park, drop off and pick up.
"It’s a busy road anyway, but you are going to have traffic coming off the road much earlier than now," he said.
"This is something Highways have been looking at for at least two years."
The application has 27 conditions should the plans be approved.
The proposals go to a planning committee tonight (September 6) at the Vale of Glamorgan Council civic offices.