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Objection Report

Proposed Site, Playing Fields and Traffic Management

  • How is this traffic problem going to be managed if an additional school with the proposed number of 600 pupils is built? This will totally immobilise Pontardawe every school day afternoon
  • There was no effective traffic management plan to determine how the addition of children not only during the morning and evening but also during the lunch period (part time placements) would be managed in an area where congestion was already a significant problem.
  • There is, already heavy, traffic congestion, at the Cwmtawe Comprehensive School site, with gridlock situations at home time. Further traffic in this area, would mean unacceptable delays for residents and parents alike, at dropping off and picking up, times.
  • The council have not provided thorough information about traffic when making this decision.  There is no evidence provided to reassure locals that traffic won't be left congested. They have not provided traffic surveys or models on the issue.  This goes against all the clean air initiatives, there will be far more idling traffic.  
  • There isn't sufficient parking and traffic flow for Cwmtawe school, this is not managed at all and can cause awful traffic and become dangerous for pedestrians
  • Traffic in Pontardawe is chaotic at the best of times and will be even more so with the new school needing transport for children getting to school
  • The fields are used by hundreds of children weekly -primarily to play football and rugby.
  • In a time where public health focus is very much on reducing obesity to remove the playing fields would be detrimental to the physical and emotional health of many in the community
  • The site for the Super School will result in the loss of a large area of green space and sporting facilities. The potential loss of the Bowling Centre at the Leisure Centre

Officer Response

Many objections have been received relating to the loss of the playing fields at Parc Ynysderw.  The view that all the land will be lost to the proposed new build has been repeatedly raised, however this is entirely false.  The exact location of the proposed new school within the Parc Ynysderw site, will be further explored should the proposal progress, when the planning application and detailed ground investigations will be undertaken. It is the case that any loss to the playing fields at Parc Ynysderw can be compensated by reconfiguration of the current pitches as well as drainage improvement works to one underutilised pitch.

Funding for drainage works related improvement works such as drainage or associated investigative costs has been identified within the budget for the proposed new build school and pool, along with enhancing the children’s playground adjacent to the leisure centre, which may also be affected by the proposed works, to ensure no loss of amenities in the area.

The Council’s title to the land is subject to a deed of dedication in favour of the National Playing Fields Association (as the duly appointed Trustees of the King George V Foundation) so the prior approval of the Fields in Trust is required to the proposal to enable the land to be released.

Formal approval from Fields in Trust to release the land has been received.  It has been agreed that the Pontardawe Recreation Ground will be a suitable replacement and will therefore become part of the King George V Foundation with both Parc Ynysderw Sports Association and Pontardawe Community Sports and Recreation Association in agreement.

A significant number of objections raise concerns regarding increased traffic and congestion around the site of the proposed new school.

As reported in the consultation report this proposal relates to establishing a new school. Should the proposal be approved it will be a pre-requisite of gaining planning consent that traffic management and safe routes for pupils and parents are thoroughly addressed.

Every new school build in Neath Port Talbot is subject to rigorous highways and planning scrutiny before planning approval is granted and in many cases, as part of the scheme, significant work has led to improved traffic management and access arrangements in the area. These processes are well established and have been tried and tested over many years. It is expected that sufficient staff and visitor parking as well as parent and bus drop off areas will be a requirement of planning consent. These elements would be developed as part of the scheme and would seek to improve the current arrangements on the Parc Ynysderw site.

An initial independent Traffic Impact Assessment has been carried out and has concluded that the site is located in a sustainable location with good walking and cycling connections from the surrounding area. There are good public transport connections within the immediate vicinity of the site allowing for good accessibility for staff and parents travelling to the site from further afield. There is no existing Highway Safety pattern problem which could be exacerbated by the proposed development

Both vehicular and pedestrian access to the site will be developed as part of the masterplan for the proposed development.

The impact assessment and review of the existing local highway network surrounding the site has highlighted some potential capacity constraints. As such, mitigation measures have been proposed to mitigate against the likely impact of the development on the surrounding local highway network. These will be further developed and explored as part of the planning approval process.

A Travel Plan for both the School and adjacent Swimming Pool will be developed as part of any forthcoming planning application. This will include the promotion of measures and initiatives to enhance the attractiveness of sustainable means of travel and educate and inform pupils, parents, staff and visitors of the alternatives available to private single occupancy car use.