A planning application to build a new Ysgol y Garnedd, for 420 pupils, has been approved by Gwynedd Planning Committee, as part of a £12.7 million investment in primary education in Bangor.

The new school will provide fourteen classrooms, two Additional Learning Needs classrooms, a Cylch Meithrin along with a number of different teaching spaces, staff and administration areas and a large hall.

After a number of different sites were considered within the area, the current site at Ysgol y Garnedd along with a section of Friars School playing fields was chosen as preferred site for the new school.

It is proposed that the new school building will be constructed on the Friars School field while the existing Ysgol y Garnedd is still in use. Once the new school building is completed the existing buildings will be demolished to make way for an additional car park and sports fields.

This is the latest step in the process of reorganising primary education in Bangor and follows a consultation process which ran from 4 September to 2 October 2018. During this time, there was an opportunity for parents, governors and members of the community to declare their objection to the plans.

Councillors visited the proposed site today, prior to the meeting, and were told the new school will be built over two levels and will be twice the size of the existing school.

Objections

As part of the consultation process several objections were raised by the residents of Penrhos Avenue, which is close proximity to the new building and will be used as an access road during the construction, because of their concerns about noise, dust and potential pollution during the building process; although the committee agreed there will be some noise, appropriate measures will be taken to keep noise and dust pollution to a minimum.

Concerns were also raised about the volume of local traffic, particularly on Penrhos Road. The transportation department had no objections to building the new school but recommended that all vehicular access, footpaths and the entire parking provision should be completed before the new school opens.

Cllr Gruffyd Williams voiced his concern that a Welsh language impact assessment hadn’t been carried out and that 20% of pupils at Ysgol y Garnedd already use English in the playground, he said: “Doubling the size of the school could have an impact on the Welsh language.“ He added the fact an assessment hadn’t been carried out was “unacceptable.”

Legal officer Iawn Williams informed the committee that a Welsh Language was an important consideration but was not part of the planning process for the new building.

Cllr Huw Wyn Jones, from Bangor, said: “The existing school is falling apart, we need a new school and have needed one for some time. If you look at Coed Mawr, the closest school, that’s also falling down and parents in Bangor have been sending their children to y Garnedd instead of Coed Mawr for years.

He added: “This is the only site available in Bangor, I welcome this development as do most people in Bangor.”

The planning committee voted in favour of the planning application by 9 votes to 5.

Gwynedd Council’s Cabinet will meet on Tuesday 6th November, to make a final decision on the reorganisation of education in Bangor, which could see the closure of Ysgol Babanod Coedmawr and Ysgol Glanadda in August 2020.