FUNDING for the Penarth Learning Community has been agreed and is in place for work to begin on the St Cyres site, according to the Vale Council, pending final specifications of the size and design of the school.

It had been reported in recent weeks that urgent talks were being held to persuade other authorities, who will use the regional facilities, to contribute to the cost of the ground-breaking project.

But the Vale said in a statement that its 30 per cent contribution towards the cost of the scheme is in place, with the other 70 per cent of the required total provided by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Paula Ham, head of strategic planning and performance for the Vale Council, said: "The Welsh Government has confirmed the grant funding for the Penarth Learning Community, but the offer of support requires the Vale of Glamorgan Council to clarify with neighbouring councils their use of the regional facilities for special educational needs in order to finalise the size and design of the Special School.

"This work is due to be completed in September, after which the Welsh Government will determine the profile of grant funding for the scheme.

"It is not yet possible to identify a start date for the scheme until the funding profile has been agreed and statutory consultation to reorganise the schools is complete.

"But the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s 30 per cent contribution towards the cost of the scheme is in place, with the other 70 per cent coming from WAG funding."

The development, which was spared the axe in recent Cardiff Bay cost savings, will see the transformation of the run-down St Cyres site in Penarth into a brand new learning campus, incorporating St Cyres school on a single site, along with Ysgol Er’w Delyn, Ashgrove and Maes Dyfan special schools.

Speaking after concerns over the development were raised recently, Councillor Mark Wilson said a commitment of intent from the Vale Council was "badly needed".

"It’s important that a positive statement of intent is made to St Cyres," he said.

"I had hoped this would be made at the last cabinet meeting but it was not forthcoming.

"The Vale has the funds in reserve to subsidise its percentage of the project, but it is still stalling for time.

"The sooner physical work begins on the project the better. It’s not fair on the school’s students and staff, or the wider community, to have a school that is in desperate need of repair and new facilities."

Speaking last month, St Cyres headteacher Dr Jonathan Hicks said the news that the project would proceed despite the changes to the schools programme was "fantastic".

"This is a major step forward," he said.

"It means it is definitely going ahead, and is the final green light we have been waiting on for many years.

"I’m delighted that the communities of Penarth and Dinas Powys are going to benefit and am looking forward to work starting in earnest."