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Plans for ‘desperately needed’ new secondary school in Cardiff approved

Artist impressions of what the new Willows High School in Splott will look like once completed (Pic: Atkinsrealis)

PLANS for a “desperately needed” replacement secondary school in Cardiff have been given the go ahead.

Cardiff Council’s planning committee voted unanimously today in favour of approving plans for the new Willows High School, which will be built on land at the bottom of Lewis Road in Splott.

It will accommodate 900 pupils and include a purpose-built special resource base for 30 pupils.

The existing school, located on Willows Avenue in Tremorfa has 844 pupils on roll and 123 members of staff.

Ward members for Splott, Cllr Huw Thomas and Cllr Ed Stubbs, said the new school is much needed, commenting on how the current building is at the end of its life and in such a poor state that pupils once had to temporarily use the council’s offices at County Hall for some lessons.

Cllr Stubbs, said: “This investment is much needed in Splott.

“Any of you that know the current Willows site will know… there was one point where we had to have pupils out of the site for a number of weeks and spend a lot of money because of the state of the building.

“Often when we talk about these new schools, we talk a lot about the borrowing required to deliver them, but we never talk about the saving that’s made from the significant costs of maintaining an old estate.”

The new school site will have three multi-use games pitches, new grass rugby pitches and seven-a-side football pitches.

There will also be a new sports hall and theatre which will be available for community use during out of school hours.

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Cllr Stubbs added that the council should plan for the future of the school beyond its construction and eventually move from being six forms of entry to eight forms of entry. The school will be closer to the Splott/Butetown ward border.

There is no secondary school within the Butetown ward. The closest one is Fitzalan High School in Canton.

Ward councillor for Butetown, Cllr Helen Gunter, said she and families in the area welcomed plans for the new school but added they are concerned there will be no sixth form provision there.

Cllr Gunter said: “Year after year, Butetown children miss out.

“This year, just 49% of children were offered their first choice of school compared to a city wide average of 88%.”

“Butetown families should have the same choices that other families across the city have.”

Plans to demolish Splott Market, which used to stand on the site earmarked for the new school, were given the go ahead early in 2023.

The only objection raised by a member of the public about the application was in relation to the proposed active travel route on Freshmoor Road.

Brakespeed Investments Ltd, which owns an industrial site adjacent to the application site, told Cardiff Council it was concerned that reducing the width of Freshmoor Road would affect businesses.

In a letter to the council, Tom Young said that his family’s business has “not been consulted directly to explain that this would happen and this will be detrimental to the businesses that operate from the site”.

The planning application was subject to a 21-day consultation period starting from January 29.

Cardiff Council said in its report on the plans that it responded to the letter from Mr Young, “noting that the active travel route has already been permitted… and access is still retained to the site in question.”