THE council has responded to concerns on social media over the consultation on the new Catholic school in Merthyr Tydfil.
In a statement the council said it would like to address residents’ concerns about the new 3-16 voluntary aided Catholic School planned to open in September 2023.
The plans involve closing St Aloysius Roman Catholic (RC) Primary, St Illtyd’s RC Primary and St Mary’s RC Primary schools and Bishop Hedley RC High School (BHHS) from September 2022, creating a 3-16 all through Catholic school.
The site chosen after consultation was land south of the “Greenie” west of Galon Uchaf Road and after further consultation on the layout the decision was made to go with an alternative configuration of the whole site, the school building now being located on the current Greenie playing fields with both playing fields relocated to the southern end of the site.
One of the playing fields would be a shared all weather facility, and the other field would be accessible to the community at all times.
In June 2016, the council approved the delegation of powers for school organisation decisions to the cabinet.
But the council said comments have been made on social media claiming that residents have not been consulted on the proposals.
The council said there have in fact been four consultations on the school since 2018: in September 2018, April 2019, November 2020 and April 2021.
In the most recent consultation, the council stated that the plans would mean a realignment of the community facilities on the Greenie and Buttercup Fields in Galon Uchaf.
The authority said it is committed to increasing the community use of all school facilities and the new 3-16 school is being planned with a distinct community focus.
It said there will be an increased opportunity for community groups to use the wider facilities provided within the school building and site including other sports and play facilities.
There will be a dedicated shared community/school all-weather football pitch with floodlight provision which will be for school use during school hours and available for community use out of hours.
In addition, there will now be car park access in the evening and on weekends for community football use to ease the current issues along Galon Uchaf Road, the council said.
There will also continue to be a community grass pitch with community changing facilities outside of the school grounds and these will be provided on the Buttercup Fields, with the community always having to access to this grass area.
The current Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) will remain where it is and continue to have open access for the community. Whilst the community playground will be repositioned, it will remain at the northern end of the site near to Galon Uchaf and the MUGA.
As the design process continues, further plans will be agreed, including a traffic impact assessment.
There are also plans for the public right of way to the Gurnos that goes across the Greenie to be enhanced and to provide a better quality path connecting the communities of Galon Uchaf, Penydarren and Gurnos.
Council leader Councillor Lisa Mytton said: “There has been much comparison with the decision made regarding Ysgol Y Graig. The consultation on Ysgol Y Graig started in 2011 and, if the use of the playing fields there had been agreed, would have left the community with a three quarter size rugby pitch. However, we still had to compromise with loss of green space for a road and car park.
“We understand the strength of feeling from residents, but we can assure them that the development of the Catholic school has been looked at from every angle, and we believe these current options will not only provide a fantastic facility for our children but also the community.”