Plans to expand a special needs school to provide an additional 80 pupil places have been backed by Caerphilly County Borough Council’s education scrutiny committee – despite concern over the loss of a playing field.
The proposal would provide additional facilities and an outdoor play space at Trinity Fields School and Resource Centre in Ystrad Mynach, to meet growing demand for places.
But concern has been voiced over the loss of a council-owned playing field next to the school, which is regularly used by Penallta Rugby Club.
Ian Elliott, headteacher of the school, told a meeting of the scrutiny committee it has seen increases in pupil numbers every year since 2016.
He said there are no additional areas at the school that could be developed to provide teaching spaces.
Mr Elliott said the extra 80 places provided would “futureproof Trinity Fields for the foreseeable future”.
Councillor Wynne David said he supported the school expansion, but had concerns over the arrangements for the rugby club.
He questioned whether a practice pitch used by the rugby club could be upgraded and expanded.
But council officer Mark Williams said flooding issues on that pitch were “insurmountable”.
“The only way to stop it flooding is to build the level up, and if we do that it creates a flooding problem elsewhere,” Mr Williams said.
“Our proposal would be to bring the Sue Noake (Leisure Centre) pitch up to first-team standard.”
Cllr Martyn James, who represents the Ystrad Mynach ward, urged the committee to consider the impact of losing the playing field.
“We have lost five pitches in Ystrad Mynach in the last 10-12 years,” he said.
“Too many rugby pitches, a cricket pitch, two football pitches and now a rugby pitch proposed.
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“There will be no pitches left in Ystrad Mynach. Do you think that’s fair to a community?”
Cllr Carol Andrews said it was “unfortunate” Penallta Rugby Club would need to relocate – but she said they would still be within walking distance of a different pitch.
“I really consider it essential that the school is extended,” she said.
Council officers said they would continue discussions with the rugby club to mitigate the loss of the playing field.
This includes looking at the possibility of using the pitch at the Sue Noake Leisure Centre and establishing protection for the retained pitches.
A consultation on the proposals is open until October 26, with details at caerphilly.gov.uk/involved/Consultations
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