North Wales Weekly News 22 March 2012
Despite planners claiming the design leaves a lot to be desired, councillors have approved the £22m redevelopment of Ysgol y Gogarth, as JUDITH PHILLIPS reports
WORK on a £22m scheme to demolish and rebuild a special school will start on schedule in August, despite criticism of the design.
Conwy County Council planning officers and conservationists expressed concern that the proposals for a replacement for Ysgol y Gogarth in Craig-y-Don didn’t blend in with its surroundings. The school is on land adjacent to Bodafon Fields, close to the promenade.
But at a special meeting of the council’s planning committee yesterday councillors decided that the need for a replacement for the outdated 1960s building should override design concerns.
They voted unanimously to give the scheme the go ahead, but with the proviso that planning officers should impose conditions to address some of the worries about the appearance of the complex.
“I’m delighted the councillors decided the need for a new school outweighed the design issues,” said chairman of governors Dave Rowley.
“This school serves the whole county and is a unique facility which meets the educational needs of children with a variety of special needs.”
In 2010, the Welsh Government approved the council’s bid to redevelop Ysgol y Gogarth.
The new facilities will include classrooms and specialist teaching areas, library, IT spaces, therapy rooms, hydro-pool, sports hall and vocational teaching areas.
The existing residential facilities will be refurbished to provide self-contained flats with a new entrance offering a clear division between school and home.
The work will be carried out in phases, and the final phase will include improved vehicle access and parking, new grassed and multi-use sports pitches, new habitat and recreation areas.
Working with the local health board the development will also include new facilities to complement those already provided in the Child Development Centre.
Headteacher Jonathan Morgan told yesterday’s meeting that the existing buildings were no longer fit for purpose.
“We are severely handicapped by a lack of space, there are no proper recreation or sports facilities and children have to change in the toilets. The school also has to close on a regular basis for long term and ongoing problems with the heating system,” he said.
“The school has excellent staff and happy pupils and parents but we are limited by the physical constraints of the building.”
Cllr Merfyn Thomas proposed permission should be granted, but added: “I’m not completely happy about the design, but then I don’t find Venue Cymru, which is right on the promenade, acceptable.
“However, I believe the education needs must override other considerations.”
Work on redeveloping the school is expected to be completed by 2014.