Planning for new specialist school in Denbighshire under discussion

By Richard Evans

Plans for a new Denbigh specialist school advanced this week.

Cabinet members discussed a new purpose-built school building being built for Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn, a specialist school for children with autism aged 3-19.

The school currently teaches at three separate sites, including its main Park Street building.

The proposals are to centralise the school at one purpose-built site. Initial plans were backed by Denbighshire’s cabinet in October before a consultation phase went ahead.

The current school building is oversubscribed. Currently, Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn has 136 children but only has provision for 116 – with another 72 on the waiting list awaiting assessment.

The new purpose-built school is subject to a site being agreed, planning consent being given, and funding being secured, but the preferred site is the field next to Denbigh Leisure centre, which is currently used by Denbigh High School.

Welsh Government will likely fund 75% of the new building’s cost.

Councillors heard how 84% of children attending the school lived within Denbighshire.

This week cabinet members considered the latest report at a cabinet meeting where they debated objections to the school’s proposed numbers.

But Denbighshire didn’t receive any objections regarding the increase in capacity at the school; instead, residents raised issues such as the loss of green space, the impact on Denbigh High School losing one of its playing fields, and traffic concerns.

These concerns fell outside the specific consultation but will likely be raised again during the planning process.

Deputy leader Cllr Gill German spoke in favour of the plans.

“There will be 75% funding from Welsh Government as this is specialist provision with 25% provided by Denbighshire County Council,” she said.

“It is safe to say we’ve come a long way in the diagnosis and the understanding of the needs of children on the autistic spectrum in recent years.

“I have been in many classrooms where I’ve seen mainstream is not working for some children.

“We know that need is out there. We know we need to meet the needs of children in a place that best suits them, so looking to increase capacity is the right thing to do.”

The plans will now be progressed to ‘an implementation phase’.

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