Assurances wanted over North Powys Wellbeing Programme as it could affect school plans in Newtown
Assurances that the North Powys Wellbeing Programme will go ahead are wanted by senior Powys councillors.
This is because the programme is intertwined with school merger proposals in Newtown, which could see a new school building built in The Park area of town, where the wellbeing campus is also earmarked to be developed.
At a Powys County Council Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, October 24 councillors debated a proposal to merge Ysgol Calon y Dderwen and nearby Treowen primary school from September 2025.
The council had proposed a new school building for Ysgol Calon y Dderwen which was created following the merger of Ladywell Green Infants School and Hafren Junior School in 2021.
But the council now want to build a bigger school building to allow Treowen pupils to eventually move over.
When the idea of a bigger school build was revealed in June, Maesyrhandir primary school had been included in the merger – but has now been discounted.
The merger is supposed to remedy the school surplus spaces problems in Newtown.
Cabinet member for a connected Powys, Liberal Democrat Councillor Jake Berriman said: “Is there a plan b if there is more space available on the site should the wellbeing scheme not receive funding confirmation.”
He wanted clarity on these points as they are “absolutely central” to the proposal.
Director of education and children’s social services, Lynette Lovell said that the site is “constrained” due to a lack of space to bring all schools together.
But if the situation changes, Mrs Lovell said: “We could have all three schools on one site.”
Education portfolio holder, Liberal Democrat Councillor Pete Roberts said: “This schools is a critical path for the (wellbeing) project.”
He explained that the wellbeing hub would go where part of Ysgol Calon y Dderwen currently stands.
Councillor Roberts said that if the Welsh Government decided against the wellbeing programme – there would be “scope to revisit” the school merger proposal.
Council leader, Liberal Democrat Councillor James Gibson-Watt said: “There’s obviously concern around the situation.
“We have been waiting for a long time around the clarity of the wellbeing programme.
“It would be a lot easier for us if we had that information.
“The recommendation before to us today does give us that flexibility to re-address that issue as and when we know more.”
Councillor Berriman put forward an extra recommendation to send a letter to the Welsh Government asking for clarity on the North Powys Wellbeing Programme funding.
Deputy council leader, Labour’s Councillor Matthew Dorrance said: “I’m not sure it’s appropriate at this stage to write to government.
“I think we need to talk to colleagues in the health board first.”
The recommendation was amended to find out how the strategic outline case by Powys Teaching Health Board (PTHB) for the wellbeing programme is progressing, and councillors unanimously agreed to start the process.
The council is working with PTHB on the wellbeing programme, which is supposed to bring health, social care, education, voluntary sector and even housing together in one place.
The cost of the total scheme was estimated to be £122 million last year and will be funded by the Welsh Government.
The hope is that it will be built and open by 2026.
A PTHB spokesman said: “It is expected that a business case for the programme will be submitted to the Welsh Government next summer.
“Work remains on schedule.