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Controversial plans to demolish Swansea Valley school approved

Godre'Rgraig Primary School

PLANS to demolish a Swansea Valley primary school have been confirmed by, as a result of long-standing fears over a nearby landslip.

Godre’rgraig Primary School has been closed since 2019 when concerns of a landslip from a nearby quarry spoil tip forced students to relocate to temporary portable classrooms on the sports field adjoining Cwmtawe Community School.

The site which is scheduled to be torn down in March, is part of complex situation that has previously been described as a potentially multi-million pound headache for local the council, as it looks to re-home pupils, while finding Welsh Government funding to build a new school in the village.

News of the demolition was first announced in December 2022 after councillors ruled out two other options to re-open the school, including removing the quarry spoil tip or building a retaining structure above the school to catch any falling material.

It was also followed by a meeting of Neath Port Talbot Council in November 2023, where they approved a series of new school project submissions to the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Communities for Learning funding programme – with one submission for a new English medium school worth £17 million, to replace Godre’rgraig Primary on Gnoll Road.

However, at the time Labour opposition members argued that there was still a lot of work to be done before construction on the school would begin, adding that at such an early stage there was no guarantee the plans would actually be approved by the Welsh Government.

Parents have also raised concerns, fearing that the demolition of the current site before any funding is found to create a new one could result the closure of the school altogether.

Rhys Williams is a former school governor at Godre’rGraig Primary as well as having children in the school. He said: “In terms of the announcement it has come as a shock to people in the local community.

“For us we feel as though there is a real lack of clarity over what is going on with the school at the moment, and for it to be demolished before we have answers to so many important questions is a big risk.”

Other questions have also been asked about the current levels of danger from the nearby quarry tip, with residents hoping for more information about the site in the coming months.

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A Neath Port Talbot Council spokesman said: “Pupils at Godre’rGraig Primary School were evacuated to demountable classrooms at Cwmtawe Community School in 2019 after geological experts Earth Science Partnership (ESP) alerted Neath Port Talbot Council to a risk to the school from a quarry spoil tip on land above the school.

“Members of Neath Port Talbot Council’s Environment, Regeneration and Streetscene Services Cabinet Board meeting on Friday, December 2 2022 approved plans to demolish the school after alternatives including removal of the quarry spoil tip and the building of a retaining structure above the school to catch any falling material were ruled out.

“On November 20, 2023, the council’s cabinet agreed to seek permission – via education officials – for plans for a new-build, English medium, £17m replacement for Godre’rgraig Primary School at Gnoll Road, Godre’rgraig, providing 210 full-time and 30 part-time nursery places to be included in the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Communities for Learning funding programme (formerly known as 21st Century Schools). That process is continuing.

“The demolition of the Godre’rGraig Primary School building is due to take place in March. Public meetings in the area have been held to explain the situation. The focus remains on maintaining educational standards in the Swansea Valley.”