DENBIGHSHIRE'S cabinet members have backed plans for a new purpose-built school for children with autism.

At a meeting this week, cabinet members agreed on the proposals that would see Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn’s capacity increased from 116 to 220.

The Denbigh school is currently spread across four separate sites, but the new purpose-built school would bring three of the four sites together at one location.

The current capacity at the school is 116, but the school has 136 pupils and 10 children on a waiting list – and a further 10 awaiting assessment for a place at the school.

Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn educates children and teenagers aged three to 19, providing specialist provision for pupils with autism. The school currently has a primary school site, two secondary sites, and a residential building.

The proposed site for the school is the council-owned field next to Denbigh Leisure Centre, which is used by Denbigh High School.

Councillors heard how the Welsh Government would fund 75 per cent of the cost of the new £23.8 million building as there is a growing need for special schools.

The council will now submit its strategic outline case to the Welsh Government and commence its consultation process.

Hugh Hilditch-Roberts is the council's cabinet member for education and explained why the new school building was needed.

“Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn is full to the brim, and they have not got the space to deliver what is needed for the children of Denbighshire and outside the area,” he said.

“Predominantly this increase (in capacity) will be servicing the children of Denbighshire.

“The programme is one we want to make sure we can deliver. We are working with Denbigh High, with regard to land that is not currently used.

“What I am asking is can we crack on? There is a need and the school is full and as soon as possible we would like to crack on with this project and deliver the right offer for the children and the service users of this school.”

He added: “Just to illustrate how important this is, we have children who haven’t been assessed and are on waiting lists to attend the school.

"It has a massive impact on other schools and can be quite an issue in the classroom for the teachers and provides challenges for other learners as well. So I want to highlight how important this provision is not just for the school in Denbigh but for every school in Denbighshire.”

Members heard how the school’s capacity is difficult to determine as it depends on pupil needs, which can vary greatly.

The cabinet supported the proposals unanimously. Members heard how a future planning application would be a separate process.

If you value The National's journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.