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(UK) Wales: Halt to $11.5M school for challenging behaviour/emotional/social difficulties

June 30, 2023, County Times: Kerry, Powys, Brynllywarch Hall school plan called in

PLANS for a flagship Powys County Council school building project near Newtown have been paused.

This is so that the Welsh Government minister for Climate Change, Julie James MS can mull over taking charge of the decision making process after being asked to “call in” the application.

In May plans to build a new £9.1 million [$11.5M] special school at land next Brynllywarch Hall at Kerry near Newtown were formally submitted to Powys County Council.

The council has made the application itself for a replacement school, ancillary buildings, a MUGA sports surface, landscaping, and associated works at land near Brynllywarch Hall special school, at Kerry near Newtown.

Welsh Government head of planning casework, Hywel Butts said: “The Welsh ministers have been asked to call in the application for their own determination.

“I direct Powys County Council, not to grant planning permission for the development without the prior authorisation of the Welsh ministers.

“I issue this direction to enable further consideration to be given to whether or not the application should be referred to the Welsh ministers for their determination.

“The direction only prevents your authority from granting planning permission; it does not prevent it from continuing to process or consult on the application.”

Mr Butts explains that the council could refuse the application if they so wish.

Documents lodged with the application show that Kerry Community Council (KCC) has “strongly” objected to the proposal.

At an extra planning meeting of Kerry council on June 5, 34 residents turned up to object to the plans.

Kerry council clerk, Ria Roberts said: “KCC acknowledges the need for modern facilities for the students and staff but does not support the plans to build a new school on a greenfield site in a rural area with inadequate highways provision.

“It is the Welsh Government’s policy that brownfield sites should be re-purposed before greenfield sites are newly developed.

“KCC and residents believe it should be possible to maintain the existing Grade Two listed school building and that additional school buildings, to a modern standard, should be built on the area currently occupied by the two vacant houses, various outbuildings and demountables.

“This will allow the existing grass playing field to be retained for recreational activities.” Ms Roberts added that the council is concerned that the future of the hall is not being considered as part of the application which is “a significant part” of the area’s heritage. Brynllywarch Hall School in Kerry.

The case for the new school building was agreed by the previous Independent/Conservative cabinet in July 2020 as part of its Transformation Strategy for Education in Powys.

A combined Strategic Outline Case and Outline Business Case was then sent down to Cardiff for approval by the Welsh Government.

As part of the former 21st Century Schools Programme, now known as the Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme, the Welsh Government are expected to fund 75 per cent of the of the school construction project with the remaining 25 per being coming from the council.

Planning agent for the council Dylan Green of Asbri Planning Ltd said: “The mansion house dates from 1829 and is considered inadequate for modern education purposes due to its condition and arrangement.

“The new facility will provide a modern teaching environment, fit for the 21st century.”

The new build if approved would help provide specialist support and provision to pupils from eight to 19-year-olds with challenging behaviour, emotional and social difficulties.


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