RCT has agreed an updated funding package for the proposed new Welsh Medium Primary School in Rhydyfelin – to deliver a £14.183m investment for the community.
A report to Cabinet on Monday, February 28,outlined the updated financial position of the project following a previous update in June 2021. Since then, a Strategic Outline Programme has been submitted to Welsh Government which incorporates, among other updates, a commitment to achieve a net zero carbon school. Welsh Government approved this in September 2021.
The proposed development will be on the current Heol y Celyn Primary school site, and would welcome the school’s Welsh Medium pupils, as well as those currently attending Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Pont Sion Norton, from September 2024. It is part of a wider £60m investment across Greater Pontypridd, to be delivered via Welsh Government’s Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme (formerly the 21st Century Schools Programme).
It is proposed that the brand new school for Rhydyfelin will contain first-class education facilities, a new Multi Use Games Area, a new playing field and an on-site bus drop-off area. The intention is for the school to achieve Net Zero Carbon, while the existing buildings would be demolished.
The Council held a Pre Application Consultation process in September and October 2021, for members of the community to find out more about the plans and have their say. There was also a face-to-face event held at Rhydyfelin Community Centre, where residents could ask questions to Council officers.
Monday’s Cabinet report provided the latest update on the overall progress of the project. An Outline Business Case to Welsh Government was approved in August 2021, and the final stage to obtain a formal grant award is through a Full Business Case. This was submitted to Welsh Government in January 2022, including the updated costs, with approval anticipated in March 2022.
Band B capital schemes via Welsh Government’s Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme contribute 65% funding and, based on the updated costs, the grant award for the Rhydyfelin project will be £9.219m. This sets the Council’s contribution at £4.964m. On Monday, Cabinet also agreed the funding method for the Council’s contribution, to be via Prudential Borrowing, and this will now be recommended to Full Council on March 9, 2022. The proposed new school will also be subject to formal planning approval.
Councillor Jill Bonetto, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Inclusion Services, said: “On Monday, Cabinet agreed a revised funding package for the proposed new Welsh Medium Primary School in Rhydyfelin – which now represents an investment of more than £14m in new education facilities at the heart of the community. The update means that the Council could now benefit from more than £9.2m funding from Welsh Government, reflected in the Full Business Case submitted earlier this year.
“These proposals are part of a wider investment of more than £60m, supported by the Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme, which would be delivered across Greater Pontypridd by September 2024. The investment also includes multi-million pound projects at Pontypridd High, Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive, and Hawthorn High School.
“Cabinet’s agreement on Monday is an important step in the funding process for the Welsh Medium Primary School in Rhydyfelin – with a final decision from Welsh Government to confirm its contribution expected shortly. This is a very exciting project to deliver a Net Zero Carbon development and a state-of-the-art learning environment for pupils and staff – as the Council looks to continue its strong track record of improving its schools through significant investment.”
Alongside the £60m proposals across Greater Pontypridd, the Council is also progressing several other major school investment projects across Rhondda Cynon Taf. New facilities are currently being delivered on site at YGG Aberdâr and Ysgol Rhydywaun – while future Mutual Investment Model (MIM) projects are being progressed to deliver new community school buildings for Llanilltud Faerdref Primary, Pontyclun Primary and Penygawsi Primary.
Also, further Band B projects using an additional £85m Welsh Government funding were announced in October 2021 – taking the overall total to £252m. They will deliver investment for Ysgol Llanhari, Ysgol Cwm Rhondda, Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llwyn y Forwyn, Penrhys Primary, Maesybryn Primary and Tonysguboriau Primary, as well as a new English Medium primary school for the community of Glyncoch and a new special school for the County Borough.