‘Unsuitable’ school site could become official public open space

Land at Brackla Hill which has been found to be unsuitable for use as the site of a new primary school could be gifted to the local community instead.

The Cabinet of Bridgend County Borough Council today decided to offer to investigate whether it is possible to transfer the 14 acre location over to Brackla Community Council, and to arrange to have it declared public open space in perpetuity.

A comprehensive feasibility study on the location revealed that the development costs for a new school would be far higher than originally anticipated due to issues such as significant cut-and-fill earthworks related to the topography of the site and problems with the proposed junction configuration off Brackla Way.

With the study confirming an increased construction period, longer-term inconvenience for the local community and a significant reduction in the amount of remaining public open space, the Cabinet has agreed to discount Brackla Hill as a location, and to explore new, alternative brownfield sites which have become available since the project was first put forward.

Cllr Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration, said: “We remain fully committed towards providing the community of Bridgend County Borough with an all-new Welsh-medium primary, replacing the ageing Ysgol Bro Ogwr, and exploring how the Bro Ogwr site can be used to establish an all-new English medium primary school as well.

“A number of alternative brownfield sites have become available since this project was first developed, and we have asked officers to start exploring these as potential locations instead.

“The Brackla Hill site has been the subject of intense community focus since it was first mooted, but we have repeatedly stated throughout the entire process that any final decision would rest upon the results of the feasibility study.

“I hope people will acknowledge that we have been true to our word, and that this is exactly what has come to pass here today.

“Furthermore, given the level of community feeling and considering how the feasibility study has conclusively demonstrated that the site is not suitable for the proposed school development, we will be contacting Brackla Community Council in due course to discuss how the land might be transferred over to them, and protected from further development by having it declared public open space in perpetuity.

“If this proves to be viable, we would like to work alongside them to explore new ways in which Brackla Hill can be preserved and enhanced, including looking at what potential options may be available for improving local access and amenities.

“As far as the Cabinet of Bridgend County Borough Council is concerned, Brackla Hill is conclusively off the table in terms of these plans, but our commitment towards providing a new Welsh-medium primary while developing a new English-medium school at the Bro Ogwr site remains as ambitious as ever.

“Officers are already investigating alternative locations, and I am looking forward to seeing a new proposal very soon.”