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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting : 1 October 2012

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

Proposals for St Cyres Comprehensive, Dinas Powys site and adjacent grazing land site

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To gain Cabinet approval to declare the former St Cyres Comprehensive, Dinas Powys site and adjacent grazing land site surplus and to undertake consultation to evaluate potential future uses of the site.

Recommendations

1.         That Cabinet declare the former school site and adjacent grazing land site as surplus to requirements.

 

2.         That Cabinet approves that consultation regarding future uses for the site is undertaken, the outcome of the consultation to be reported to Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee to provide recommendations to Cabinet.

 

3.         That Cabinet refers this report to Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1 / 2.    To allow future uses for the vacant school site to be considered.

 

3.         To allow Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee to consider the proposal contained in this report regarding the consultation process.

 

Background

2.             St Cyres Comprehensive School has occupied two separate sites, in Penarth and Dinas Powys for a number of years. The Dinas Powys site accommodating younger children before they transferred to the Penarth site. There are three buildings on site including the former caretaker's house measuring a total of approximately 2,500m2 on a site of 7.51 hectares. The buildings provide a range of facilities required to provide secondary education.

3.             In July 2011, due to a declining number of pupils on roll St Cyres Comprehensive School confirmed that from September 2012 the Dinas Powys site would no longer be required. Parents were informed that from September 2012 all children would be accommodated on the Penarth site of the school.

4.             In June 2012 pupils transferred to the Penarth site and the Dinas Powys buildings were cleared of all furniture and equipment and were vacated by the school on Friday 6 July. All three buildings are now vacant.

5.             St Cyres Comprehensive School Governing Body published a statutory notice to change category from Foundation status to Community status in March 2012. The Welsh Government approved this change of status to take effect from the 24 July 2012. The change of status has transferred both school sites into the ownership of the Local Authority from this date.

6.             The adjacent grazing land site (measuring 4.9 hectares) is also under the remit of the Learning and Skills Directorate. The site has been occupied by the Dinas Powys Pony Club under a Grazing Tenancy which expired on 31 December 2000 and has not been renewed.

7.             Both sites are shown on the attached plan, Appendix A.

8.             The Learning and Skills Directorate has considered future pupil projections for the Penarth cluster of schools and no longer requires the site and buildings for educational provision in the area.

9.             The school buildings have been boarded up to prevent unauthorised access and the electricity and gas services disconnected. To date, the school building and caretaker's house have suffered three break-ins and regular inspections are being carried out to ensure that future break-ins are attended to as quickly as possible.

10.        An asbestos survey of the school buildings has been carried out; this has confirmed significant quantities of asbestos containing materials within all areas of the school buildings. Due to the extent of the asbestos within the buildings there is a risk that asbestos fibres could be released if areas were disturbed, for example by the theft of metals from the property.

Relevant Issues and Options

11.        The site is no longer required by the Learning and Skills Directorate to meet the educational needs of the area and a decision is required to determine the future use of the site. Following contact with the Corporate Asset Management Group no service has a current interest in utilising any part of the site or its buildings.

12.        The Local Service Board has been contacted to determine if members of the group had any interest in the site for alternative uses. The Dinas Powys Medical Centre steering group confirmed a tentative interest in 1.0 acre of land with road frontage for a site for a new medical centre. The group are currently progressing an alternative site in Dinas Powys and this is not their preferred site but they request that their possible future interest in the site is noted in case the current site does not gain planning consent. South Wales Fire Service, police, probation service, Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust and Vale Council for Voluntary Services have not expressed any interest in the site.

13.        In addition to the above several external bodies have expressed an interest in the site and buildings.

14.        The buildings have been secured but are still at risk from break-ins, vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

15.        The external envelope of the building is currently in an acceptable condition however if left vacant the building condition will deteriorate, resulting in damage to the building structure.

16.        Costs have been incurred to board up the buildings, undertake the asbestos survey and isolate and drain down the services. On-going financial costs and officer time will be required to ensure that the buildings are maintained in a safe condition and repairs are carried out promptly when future damage is caused. Previous experience of vacant sites has shown that the financial cost of maintaining the sites can be significant.

17.        Due to the financial costs and health and safety considerations the initial officer recommendation was to demolish the buildings as soon as possible after they were vacated.

18.        However concerns have been raised regarding the potential loss of a community building. The recommendation is therefore to enter into a Vale wide consultation process for six weeks to allow all groups and residents the opportunity to put forward proposals for future uses of the site and buildings. All proposals would be considered and the outcome reported to Corporate Scrutiny Committee to provide recommendations to Cabinet on the preferred way forward for the site.

19.        The Welsh Government have confirmed that as the St Cyres Comprehensive Dinas Powys site is no longer required for educational purposes the site is not classified as school playing fields.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

20.        Costs of approximately £22,000 have been incurred to board up the buildings and further costs, approximately £2,000 to date, have been incurred to replace boarding following break-ins and ensure that the building is in a safe condition whilst it is in Council ownership.

21.        Officer time will continue to be required to carry out inspections to ensure that the building is secure and to undertake remedial works following vandalism and break-ins.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

22.        During the consultation process any potential future uses for the site will be considered in line with the Local Authority's sustainable development guidelines.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

23.        There are no legal implications arising from this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

24.        Despite being boarded up the building has been broken into on 9 and 29 August and during the weekend of the 8 and 9 September. Although limited damage has been caused so far, the concern is that the building will be subject to continued break-ins and vandalism.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

25.        There are no Equal Opportunities Implications arising from this report

Corporate/Service Objectives

26.        Determining the preferred future use for the former school site contributes towards Corporate Improvement 33 "To make best use of our assets and to procure good, sustainable facilities and services." Included within the Corporate Plan 2010 - 14 revised December 2011.

Policy Framework and Budget

27.        This is a matter for Executive Decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

28.        If the site and buildings are declared surplus by Cabinet, open and accessible Vale wide consultation with all residents will be co-ordinated by the Consultation Officer to determine possible future uses for the site and buildings. This will include consultation with ward members. The consultation process will be for a period of six weeks advertised via press releases, the Vale web site and contact centre. All suggested uses will be evaluated and reported to Corporate Resources scrutiny committee before being presented to Cabinet.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

29.        Corporate Resources

Background Papers

None

 

Contact Officer

Mark Haynes             School Organisation and Access Manager

 

Officers Consulted

Sian Davies               Director of Resources

Paula Ham                 Head of Strategic Planning and Performance

Jane Wade                Operational Manager, Property Section

Mike Walsh Lawyer

Lorna Cross               Group Estates Officer

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill                Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

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