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Works to start on new Welsh-medium school in mid Ceredigion

Plans for a new 240-pupil Welsh-medium 3-11 school in mid Ceredigion are expected to get the go-ahead (pic: TACP Architects Ltd design and access statement)

WORKS are to begin on a new £16.3m 240-pupil Welsh-medium 3-11 school in mid Ceredigion, following contract approval by senior councillors.

Last month, Ceredigion County Council’s Development Management Committee supported an application to build Aeron Valley Primary School on a greenfield site at Felinfach, on the road from Aberaeron to Lampeter.

The new school will bring together three primary schools: Ciliau Parc Primary, Dihewyd Primary and Felinfach Primary, as well as the existing Ysgol Feithrin; and Language immersion Centre at Felinfach.

At the June 6 meeting of the council’s Cabinet, members heard the latest total overall project cost is now expected to be £16.3m, which includes a main build construction contract of c£14.7m.

The main part of the scheme is expected to be funded by a Welsh Government grant of 65 per cent.

C Wynne & Sons Ltd (trading as Wynne Construction) was appointed in July 2022 to deliver the school in the Aeron valley – Ysgol Dyffryn Aeron.

A Full Business Case (FBC) for the match-funded project was submitted to Welsh Government on May 5 of this year, which is due to be considered later this month.

It is expected grants – if approved – would be finalised by July.

To enable a start on site, the council’s delivery team has identified works which would be done prior to the receipt of formal grant offer documents, through a ‘Letter of Intent,’ members heard.

The actual expense incurred during the period covered by the proposed ‘Letter of Intent’ would be deducted from the final agreed contract sum.

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“The council has protected itself as far as is reasonably possible by taking appropriate legal advice on the contents of a proposed ‘Letter of Intent’,” a report for members stated.

The report also said: “Due to the increase in total cost, the council’s matched funding contribution will need to increase from the current c£3.5m set aside up to c£4.6m, with an additional c£1.1m being required from a combination of capital receipts and the Core Capital Programme.

“Officers have been proactive and mitigated a potentially larger increase by presenting a business case for Welsh Government funding for various components at higher grant intervention rates.”

Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement Services Councillor Gareth Davies stressed: “It’s worth noting we are confident we will get the approval from Welsh Government to this, and no notice of intention will be made until we get that confirmation.

“The risk is low to the council.”

It was stressed to members this money would come from capital revenue programme and would not affect council revenue.

Cabinet approved the Letter of Intent to a maximum value of £1.276m and accepted the tender for the build contract of £14,656,660.

Members also noted that, assuming the business case is approved, there will be a requirement for an additional £1.1m of council matched funding to be set aside.