A DRIVE towards providing net zero carbon buildings could mean it would be more expensive to redevelop Chepstow School than it would be to knock it down and entirely rebuild it, a meeting has heard.

Education and Welsh Language Minister Jeremy Miles announced last month that all new school buildings and major refurbishment projects will be required to meet net zero carbon targets from January 1.

The redevelopment of Chepstow School is expected to start in 2024 after Monmouthshire council placed it in band C of the Welsh Government’s 21st century schools programme.

But the current building is not energy efficient and a council report says “significant work” is required to bring it up to the standard expected.

At a meeting of Monmouthshire’s children and young people select committee on Thursday, councillors were told there had been “a very clear step” towards making net zero carbon buildings “a key driver for capital investment”.

Will McLean, the council’s chief officer for children and young people, said surveys will be carried out to determine how the redevelopment is carried out in light of the shift in focus on providing net zero carbon schools.

“It might be that actually retrofitting the school for zero carbon compliance might be significantly more expensive than new build aspects,” he said.

Monmouthshire council moved Chepstow School from band B to band C in the 21st century schools programme in 2017, prioritising upgrades of Caldicot, Raglan, Monmouth and Abergavenny schools in the scheme.

A condition survey in January 2020 ranked its condition as category C, meaning poor with some major defects.

It was found to have a maintenance backlog of £2.1 million, but since then Monmouthshire council has invested more than £1.5 million in upgrades.

Councillors called for further interim investments to be made before the redevelopment starts in 2024 at Thursday’s meeting.

Chepstow councillor Christopher Edwards said the 21st century schools project is “a long way off” for Chepstow School, while welcoming recent investments.

“I appreciate that budgets are stretched but in order to keep up with the times and their contemporaries, Chepstow’s students and its only secondary school I think needs this investment now in order to quickly progress,” he said.

Cllr Tudor Thomas also called for ongoing investment, saying that those currently going through the school would not benefit from a development in 2024/25.

Mr McLean said the council is always reviewing capital finance available, although other schools are also in need of investment.

“We will continue to work with both the schools and my colleagues in finance to see if there is scope to further advance work being undertaken in Chepstow already,” he said.