On the 21st March 2016, the City of Cardiff Council Cabinet met to hear objections to plans to increase the capacity of both Welsh-medium primary school Ysgol Glan Morfa and English-medium Moorland Primary School, which cater for both Splott and Adamsdown wards.
The plans proposed by the council are to increase the capacity of Ysgol Glan Morfa from 210 places to 420 places with up to 80 part-time nursery places serving the age range 3-11 from September 2017. This would be achieved by transferring the enlarged Ysgol Glan Morfa to a new build 420 place primary school on land at the Maltings Park from September 2017 (see diagram).
In addition, the capacity of Moorland Primary School would be increased from 382 places to 630 places by using the vacated Ysgol Glan Morfa buildings from September 2017, with up to 96 part-time nursery places serving the age range 3-11.
At the end of the meeting, the decision was taken to approve the proposal, subject to call-in (which is when a Minister or Government Official requests the planning application be ‘called-in’ for determination by the Welsh Ministers instead of the local authority. For more information see here). If no call-in is submitted, then the decision to approve the plans will come into force on the 6th of April 2016.
The budget for the project is £6.86 million, though it has been noted that more will likely be required to deliver the project, especially as there is a requirement to make up for the loss of green space in Maltings Park by creating green provision accessible to local people.
The plans were first advertised by way of publication of the statutory notice on the Council website and displayed in the local area on the 5th January 2016. The Welsh Government School Organisation Code also received notice of the plans and, in response, three objections were raised and put to the Cabinet during the meeting:
Objection one: overcrowding and increased traffic
According to the meeting report, the first objection was raised by a parent of a pupil at Moorland Primary School concerned that Moorland Primary School is already overcrowded with some children eating lunch in the classroom every day due to lack of space in the dinner hall. The objection also expressed concern over the potential for increased traffic and parking issues at the school.
The council’s response:
“The head teacher of Moorland Primary School has confirmed that pupils in years 5 and 6 who bring packed lunches are currently eating these in their classrooms as the school cannot accommodate all pupils in the lunch hall within the 40 minute time slot that the school operates for lunch time.
Under this proposal, Moorland Primary School would take over the vacated Ysgol Glan Morfa buildings (which are on the same site) when Ysgol Glan Morfa transfers to a new site at the Maltings from September 2017. This would enable Moorland Primary School to re-configure their current lunch time arrangements.
The development appraisals undertaken to date demonstrate a sufficiency of facilities to accommodate the increased number of children on the site utilising a combination of the Moorland and Glan Morfa buildings. Some alterations are required.”
Objection two: not enough notice and fewer green spaces
The second objection was from a resident concerned about the construction of Ysgol Glan Morfa on the Maltings Park site resulting in fewer green spaces for the people of Splott and that people hadn’t realised the implications of the proposals to build on the green park because no map had been provided along with the announcement: “as a map showing the proposed location of the site for a new build Ysgol Glan Morfa was not provided with the statutory notice this meant that people did not pay much attention to the papers. Also there is “precious little grassy rural green areas in Splott for the public to enjoy” and could the school not function within its existing facilities.”
The Council’s response:
“The statutory notice was put up at the proposed site and in the local area and advised that Indicative layouts showing maps of the school sites/the Maltings site and how the sites would look can be viewed on line at www.cardiff.gov.uk.
If selected for the purpose of building an education facility the Maltings site would need to be appropriated to reflect the change of use.
The use of part of the Maltings site for a new Ysgol Glan Morfa building would result in the reduction in the size of the current amenity area (Maltings Park). Those wishing to exercise their dogs, take children to the play facilities and use the area for informal recreation could continue to do so.
In the event the proposal proceeds to implementation and is constructed on the current amenity space off Lewis Road, it is suggested this could be compensated by the provision of additional amenity space at the rear of the site along with investment in the facilities to mitigate any loss/disruption. This would mean there is no net loss of land and the facilities would be repositioned to provide a commensurate offer to the community. This would also include provision of a shared pitch as part of a community focussed school within the school grounds that would be available to the community for use outside normal school opening hours.
Any scheme progressed would therefore be subject to planning permission and appropriation of part this amenity area of Public Open Space, taking into account the existing open space available within the ward in open space, and any objections considered.
The proposal to establish a school at the Maltings site responds to need for additional Welsh-medium primary school places to serve the area. Expansion of Ysgol Glan Morfa on its existing site is not an option.”
Objection three: Traffic safety, student support and adequate accommodation
The third objection was received from the Governing Body of Moorland Primary School and included three points and a suggestion:
Point 1: There were concerns around traffic safety at both school entrances, in particular inconsiderate parking at school pick up times;
Point 2: There were concerns expressed about the adequacy of the size and the condition of accommodate in the Ysgol Glan Morfa buildings;
Point 3: There were concerns expressed in relation to the high levels of social need in the area and the schools capacity to support vulnerable pupils and their families appropriately if the size of the school increased to 3FE as proposed;
It was suggested that “consideration be given to a split site and that Moorland’s senior staff and governors would be directly responsible for the running of the school and the quality of the learning provision.”
The Council’s response:
“Moorland Primary School is well located to meet demand for English-medium places and it is not anticipated that standards at the school would be impacted upon were the school to expand to 3FE.
Whilst the concerns of the Governing Body and the respective needs of the local community in which Moorland operates are acknowledged there are many 3FE and larger primary schools with similar levels of FSM and/or EAL learners that are demonstrating the capacity to provide education that is deemed ‘Good’ and ‘Outstanding’ by the relevant independent inspectorate body (Estyn in Wales, Ofsted in England).
Given the strengths identified at Moorland Primary School and the demonstrated understanding of the local factors impacting on children’s learning and the schools demonstrated ability to respond to these effectively, it is anticipated that Moorland Primary School’s very good standards would continue. Appropriate support would be put in place in the event the school expands to take the larger intakes, and it is acknowledged that this would include an increase in the Leadership capacity at the school.”
It has been proposed that no significant increase in traffic levels would affect Moorland Primary School as approximately the same number of students would populate the one enlarged school as the two separate schools currently on the site. The Council has also referenced the existing parking restrictions outside each pedestrian access point to the Moorland Primary site and reported that the Council is currently delivering the ‘Splott Safe Routes in the Community’ project aimed at improving the walking and cycling access to the schools.
Details of the plans as follows:
- New tabled zebra crossing on Singleton Road
- Improvements to the zebra crossing on Walker Road near the junction with Singleton Road
- New tabled crossing facility on Moorland Road near Hinton Street
- Improvements to the existing zebra crossing on South Park Road near Moorland Road
- New shared use path on South Park Road to improve access to the Star Hub area.
In terms of the new Ysgol Glan Morfa at the Maltings, the Council has drawn attention to the fact that the speed limit on Lewis Road is currently 30mph, though recognises that there are no parking restrictions in the area of the proposed school site and suggests that a “School Safety Zone will be required on Lewis Road, which will include traffic calming to reduce the traffic speeds to around 20mph and a tabled zebra crossing to provide pedestrian access to the school. In addition, improvements may be required to the pedestrian crossing facilities on East Tyndall Street which would provided as required as part of the school siting at the site”.
Changes to catchment areas?
Also according to the report, from 2017 the intake for both schools would increase significantly and the catchment area arrangements in both Splott and Adamsdown would have to be reviewed, and the Council would be required to formally consult on this.
The full Cabinet meeting report can be read here: http://bit.ly/1RNeGQD