My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

Demolition of evacuated primary school ‘the only affordable solution’

Godre’rGraig Primary School. Credit: Unknown

Neath Port Talbot councillors have approved plans to demolish the evacuated Godre’rGraig Primary School after being told it was the only affordable solution available.

The school was closed and pupils relocated to demountable classrooms at Cwmtawe Community School in 2019 after geological experts Earth Science Partnership (ESP) discovered a medium level risk to the school from a quarry spoil tip on land above the school.

Members of Neath Port Talbot Council’s Environment, Regeneration and Streetscene Services Cabinet Board meeting on Friday, December 2nd 2022 were given the following three options for dealing with the issue:

•    Removal of the Quarry Spoil Tip – This would involve the removal of 90,000 cubic metres of material taking around two years with multiple truck movements through communities with a budget estimate of around £6.1m. It would involve negotiations with a number of private landowners to agree access. Cost estimate – £6.1m (though there has been a steep rise in civil engineering projects since the estimate was produced).
•    Engineered structure – This would involve the construction of a retaining structure above the school to catch any falling material. The work would take up to two years to complete and there would need to be negotiations with a number of private land owners to agree access rights for construction. Cost estimate – £1.4M plus ongoing maintenance & Inspection costs (around £10K/year).
•    Demolition of the school – This involves the demolition of the school building. As part of this work the area will be remediated and landscaped into a biodiversity habitat with a bund formed to protect the properties downhill of the school from any slip materials. Cost estimate – Cost estimate – £395,000 plus ongoing maintenance of drainage system (around £2.5K/year).

An officers’ report to the cabinet recommended the school demolition option to manage the risk and improve the local environment, with the cost to be funded from the council’s Corporate Contingency Reserve or via any future Welsh Government funding that becomes available.

The report said: “To manage the risks and liabilities associated with potential spoil tip debris flow at the site, this is the only affordable solution available to the council.”

It added: “It should be noted for clarity that this report is not part of the wider review of the Swansea Valley schools, which is due to take place in the near future.”

The cabinet board approved the demolition option.

Before demolition work starts, local councillors, school staff and members of the community and historical societies will be contacted to see if there are any historical or sentimental items that need to be removed or re-sited.