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Plans for new £49m all-through school to be lodged despite listed building concerns

How the new Ysgol Bro Hyddgen in Machynlleth could look (Pic: Powys County Council)

A PLANNING application is set to be lodged with Powys County Council next month to build a new £49 million all through school in Machynlleth.

The council has confirmed that it is ploughing ahead with the new build school for Ysgol Bro Hyddgen which is a combined primary and secondary school campus.

Earlier this week the Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed that the long awaited project had potentially run into trouble.

Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic and environment service confirmed it has been asked to list the current Ysgol Bro Hyddgen building.

Portfolio holder for education, Liberal Democrat Cllr Pete Roberts said: “The council is fully committed to delivering this long-awaited new school building for Ysgol Bro Hyddgen, that will enable the children, young people, and wider community of the Dyfi Valley to benefit from having a high quality, environmentally sustainable facility that supports the delivery of Welsh-medium education.

Cllr Pete Roberts – Cabinet member for Learning Powys which includes the education portfolio (Pic: Powys County Council)

“The council is in open dialogue with Cadw surrounding this scheme.

“Given the potential architectural interest of these buildings, the council has commissioned its own heritage consultants to assess the architectural significance of Ysgol Bro Hyddgen against other schools designed by Herbert Carr.

“An assessment of the significance of Ysgol Bro Hyddgen will be formalised in a heritage assessment / report to support a planning application for the new school due to be submitted in early March 2024.

“It is our hope that the formal response to this request will happen alongside the planning process so that work is not unduly delayed.”

Cllr Roberts explained that the Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historic Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW) have “highlighted” that the existing school buildings at Ysgol Bro Hyddgen’ s secondary campus are a “good example” of Herbert Carr’s work.

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He was noted for his modernist style and built “high quality” post Second World War schools across Wales and his work included Newtown High School.

The proposal for the new school campus has been worked on by the council since 2017 and has been dogged by problems.

The original Bro Hyddgen project fell foul of the collapse of construction firm Dawnus in 2019 which led to the revised and bigger proposals from the Independent/Conservative administration.

Later, in October 2022, the Liberal Democrat/Labour Cabinet chose to downsize the plans for the new Machynlleth school campus.

The new campus had been set to include library and leisure facilities which had been estimated to cost £48 million in 2020.

But by October 2022 the cost had shot up to £66 million.

Dropping the leisure centre from the project is predicted to see the costs fall back to £49.12 million with 65 per cent of the funding coming from the Welsh Government.

The revised business case was agreed by the Welsh Government in January 2023.

It had been hoped that the new school will be built and be open to pupils in 2026.

Applications to list a building have impacted other recent school building projects in Welshpool that have caused delays and added millions of pounds onto the cost of schemes.