Planning permission has now been granted to develop the Hawthorn High and Hawthorn Primary school site by 2024 – an important landmark to deliver new first-class, multi-million pound education facilities for staff and pupils.
At the Planning and Development Committee meeting on Thursday, July 7, Members approved the application in line with officers’ recommendations. The officer report to the meeting noted that the development’s principle is compliant with planning policy and considerations, and is consistent with the Council’s aim to improve education provision in Rhondda Cynon Taf and to provide facilities that are fit for the 21st Century.
The application covers the demolition of three buildings (caretaker’s house, the main secondary building and one other building), their replacement with a brand new 21st Century buildings, and refurbishment of other buildings on site. External improvements within the plans also include a new staff car park, coach park and pupil drop-off area.
The new 21st Century building will have two storeys and will be built directly south of (and linked to) the existing primary school building. It will contain 11 classrooms on the ground floor, 16 classrooms on the first floor and will accommodate ancillary spaces which include a staff room, offices, reception area, toilets, therapy room, library, ICT suite, meeting rooms, DT and music areas, hygiene rooms, multi-use rooms and storage areas.
The school development will aim to achieve Net Zero carbon in operation, BREEAM accreditation, and achieve Welsh Government targets in this area.
The site’s existing access off School Lane will be reconfigured, to provide new parking areas across the site. In total, 35 new visitor parking spaces will be provided, along with 17 community parking spaces near the swimming pool which will have a dual use for staff and the wider community out of hours. A further 84 staff parking spaces and six bus bays are included within the plans.
Two new Multi Use Games Areas will be built in addition to the school’s one existing facility, while the all-weather pitch will be retained. A maintenance route will be provided between this pitch and the new school building. A new plaza will be created to the south and south-east of the new building, and informal covered teaching spaces will be provided externally across the site.
Officers said that a detailed consultation would be undertaken in the Safe Routes to School process, where advice from colleagues in the Highways Department would be sought in relation to specific highway safety matters.
Officers added that 35 parking bays would be provided at three locations at the front of the school site, away from the flow of pupils walking. It was highlighted that reversing vehicles in and out of parking bays would be no different to any other car park, in response to a concern raised about this matter. Officers concluded that the new development would bring a significant improvement for pick-up/drop-off at the school, considering the new arrangement a low risk.
The 3-16 school will welcome current Hawthorn High, Hawthorn Primary and Heol y Celyn Primary pupils from the English medium stream, from 2024.
Councillor Rhys Lewis, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Youth Participation and the Welsh Language, said: “I’m very pleased that the Council’s multi-million pound investment in new facilities for staff and pupils has gained planning consent – enabling the transformation of the current Hawthorn High and Hawthorn Primary sites into a 21st Century environment. It will increase opportunities for young people in their education and provide first-class facilities which the whole community can be proud of.
“The Council has a very strong track record of delivering brand new education facilities with Welsh Government, and this partnership is currently progressing a £252m Band B investment via the Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme. Projects currently progressing on site at YGG Aberdâr and Ysgol Rhydywaun will be delivered in time for the new academic year in September.
“The £72m investment across Greater Pontypridd in the Band B programme will deliver brand new school facilities for learners in Hawthorn, Rhydyfelin, Beddau and Cilfynydd in 2024, while new school buildings are also being progressed for Pontyclun Primary, Penygawsi Primary, Llanilltud Faerdref Primary, YGG Llyn y Forwyn, Maesybryn Primary and Tonysguboriau Primary.
“In Thursday’s planning meeting, officers explained that the new on-site setup for parking and accessing the school will represent a significant improvement upon the current arrangements. They also confirmed that specific highway matters will be addressed following the thorough Safe Routes to School assessment, with improvement works being carried out before the new 3-16 school opens. This is a process that is a matter of course for all school developments and will ensure the safest environment possible.
“With planning permission now granted, the Council will make progress towards delivering the new 3-16 school, and I’m looking forward to following this process as we bring brand new facilities for pupils in Hawthorn by 2024.”