South East Wales

Welsh school plan for Newport at risk over floods

Duffryn High School Image copyright Google

Plans for the first Welsh-medium secondary school in Newport have been thrown into doubt after experts warned the site had a high flooding risk.

It had been proposed that the existing Duffryn High School site would be split, with a new Welsh medium school being developed on part of it.

But Natural Resources Wales has objected to it because of potentially "dangerous" floods.

Council planning officials have now recommended the application be refused.

Newport council said it was legally required to provide secondary education in Welsh in Newport, and the site had been identified as the only viable one.

It said provided flood risks were properly addressed and mitigated, councillors may still be able to approve the application.

The £17m plans, due before the planning committee on 3 February, include two new three-storey teaching blocks, one for the existing school, the other for the new school.

But officials from Natural Resources Wales have objected to the new development at the Duffryn site in Lighthouse Road because the flood risk from the River Ebbw and tidal events on the Severn Estuary are too high.

A report to councillors warns that flood waters are predicted to surround the proposed two school buildings in events during and above a one in 20-year event.

Further, it warns that a flood could be very dangerous: "Significant depths and velocities of flooding surrounding the school buildings which would be dangerous to children, people and emergency services," it warns.

The report says Newport council does not have a vacant alternative site or sufficient funding for an entirely new-build school.

School oversubscribed

It had been hoped that the new school would help tackle a shortfall in Welsh-medium secondary school places in the area.

A starter class for the new secondary school is due to open temporarily at the Ysgol Bro Teyrnon site in Brynglas Drive in September.

Newport has never had a dedicated Welsh-medium secondary school and currently 390 pupils are bussed to Pontypool in Torfaen to attend Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw.

Eventually the new school would have space for 900 pupils, taken from three Welsh-medium primary schools in Newport and another at Caldicot in Monmouthshire.

Councillors have been told that Ysgol Gwynllyw will become oversubscribed this year.

Substantial funding was secured for new Welsh-medium developments in Newport under the Welsh government's 21st Century Schools programme.

Recently, Jon Wilson, head teacher of the existing Duffryn High School, wrote to parents to urge them to contact Newport council to back the new development.

Under the proposals, English-medium Duffryn High would be re-named John Frost School.

Duffryn High School head Mr Wilson declined to comment when contacted by BBC Wales.

He referred calls to the council.

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