Posted: Thu 6th Aug 2020

Approval of large extension to Mold primary school will help towards million Welsh speakers target, senior councillor claims

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

The approval of a large extension to a Mold primary school will help towards a goal of increasing the number of Welsh speakers to a million, a senior councillor has claimed.

The ambitious target has been set by the Welsh Government to ensure the national language is “an integral element” of everyday life with a deadline for the year 2050.

Councillors in Flintshire met yesterday to discuss proposals to build eight new classrooms at Ysgol Glanrafon, measuring a total of 907m2.

A new 52-space car park and drop off point have also been outlined for the Welsh medium school on Bryn Coch Lane.

Approximately 50 objections were received ahead of the virtual meeting of Flintshire Council’s planning committee, which largely focused on concerns over parking problems outside the school.

However, the scheme was granted permission after members were told talks were ongoing about further solutions to alleviate the issue.

Speaking at the start of the debate, Cllr Chris Bithell, the local authority’s cabinet member for planning, said: “It is currently a Welsh medium school which is very popular, very well established and serves a very wide area of the county.

“Given that it serves such a wide area and the drive to increase numbers of Welsh speakers nationally, the number of pupils has increased over the years and the school has found it is facing accommodation problems that this proposal aims to cater for.

“It’s supported by a grant from Welsh Government, specifically for enhancing and improving Welsh medium provision, for which the county was successful.”

He added: “Members will be aware the Welsh Government has a target of achieving a million Welsh speakers by the year 2050, which is an ambitious target.

“The actual delivery of this number of Welsh speakers is very much dependent on the provision and the expansion of Welsh medium education for children.”

Cllr Bithell said problems with parking were not unique to the school, but the addition of extra spaces would help to ease the situation.

Outdoor improvements will also be delivered alongside the extension, including a new multi-sports area and a play area for younger learners.

Cllr Marion Bateman, whose husband Haydn represents the area the school falls within, said there was currently “twice daily chaos” outside the school at drop off and pick up times.

The current chair of the council said a number of measures had been suggested to improve the parking issue further.

She said: “There has been an ongoing review and the local member has been in discussions with highways for virtually a year regarding the Traffic Regulation Order around part of the school perimeter.

“He has suggested this should go hand in hand with the use of the underused Flintshire County Council car park at the bottom end of the car park nearest to the school.

“You could utilise this car park perhaps with a park and ride facility or one hour free parking twice a day.

“This would go a long way to solving the chaos that occurs for the residents and would be far safer for the children.”
Members questioned whether the extra measures could be attached as a condition to the approval of the scheme.

Whilst officers said they sympathised with the concerns raised, they advised it would not be reasonable to attach such a requirement.

However, they promised highways officers would look into the suggestions as part of a wider review of parking in Mold town centre.

The committee unanimously voted to back the extension proposals at the end of the debate.

Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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