Neath Port Talbot councillors have approved plans for the construction of a new teaching block featuring classrooms and a canteen at a school in Ystalyfera.

In a planning meeting on Tuesday July 7, the council accepted plans to construct a two-storey building comprising of classrooms, a canteen, a hall and activity studio on the Ystalyfera site of Ysgol Gymraeg Ystalyfera Bro Dur.

Plaid Cymru councillor and representative for Ystalyfera Alun Llewelyn said he was “very pleased” the plans have been approved and the development is “long overdue.”

The new teaching block will be constructed on the north western corner of the school replacing existing buildings described as “sub-standard” in a council planning report.

“The older buildings on the site are in very poor condition but the campus is being transformed with the support of the Welsh Government and Neath Port Talbot Council,” Cllr Llewelyn said. 

A spokesperson from the council’s education department said the development at Ysgol Gymraeg Ystalyfera will improve the school’s sports facilities by introducing an artificial grass pitch and hard tarmac area.

In a report presented to the council during Tuesday’s planning meeting, chief executive Stephen Phillips said the building will be sustainable as it is designed to maximise the use of natural light, making it a “pleasant environment for the staff and pupils”.

He also said: “the overall phased redevelopment of this site will ensure that welsh medium education and the facilities provided will be maintained within this area.”

Cllr Llewelyn said the approval of the new teaching block is “a major step forward for Welsh-medium education in the north of Neath Port Talbot. 

“The school has an excellent reputation for educational, cultural and sporting achievements.

“I am also proud that Ystalyfera is the only town or village in Neath Port Talbot that offers 3-18 years education from primary to sixth-form all on the same campus.”

The new building is expected to cost around £6m and will be jointly funded by Neath Port Talbot Council and the Welsh Government under the 21st Century Schools Modernisation Programme.

So far, a total of £26m has been invested in the Ystalyfera campus under the scheme, according to the council’s education department.

Overall, Neath Port Talbot Council has pledged to invest £123 million in new schools, which marks the largest investment of any council in Wales outside of Cardiff.