PLANS to rebuild and expand a Cwmbran school as part of an £11.5 million project have been unanimously approved by councillors.

Torfaen council’s planning committee gave the green light to plans to redevelop Maendy Primary School at a meeting on Thursday.

The development will increase the capacity of the school from 231 to 420 places and the nursery from 24 to 30 places, helping to meet an expected increase in demand from a 1,200-home development being built in South Sebastopol.

A new access will also be created for vehicles to access the school from Manedy Way, replacing the current one from Wayfield Crescent, which will be for pedestrians and cyclists only.

An Additional Learning Needs assessment centre, Flying Start and childcare unit are also included in the proposals for the Pontnewydd school.

The long-term ambition is for all existing school buildings to be demolished and replaced, once the new development is completed.

The new build will include a multi-use games areas, an under-11s football pitch and forest school play areas.

It will also be the council’s first low-carbon, energy-efficient school project.

At a planning committee meeting on Thursday, Cllr Janet Jones raised questions about the forest school play areas being located close to a main road, raising concerns over air pollution.

Tanya Leck, from the council’s planning department, said the location was “not ideal”, but added that the play areas at the school are already close to roads.

Cllr Steven Evans raised questions over the loss of an oak tree, and what mitigation measures would be put in place.

The meeting heard that planning officers had wanted to save the tree.

However, the only way of doing so would have reduced the size of the outdoor play areas.

Ms Leck said the loss of the tree was ‘regrettable’ but that a landscaping scheme with mitigation measures would be submitted.

Cllr Jason O’Connell asked about how changing the access to the school would impact traffic, and the meeting heard that planners are satisfied with a travel plan submitted with the application.

The plans include 52 parking spaces for staff and visitors, alongside 38 cycle parking spaces which will be sheltered.

New landscaping is also proposed, with grassland, a wildflower meadow, hedge and tree planting along Maendy Way planned to improve the appearance of the development.

The project, part of the council’s 21st century schools programme, is expected to cost £11.46 million, with the Welsh Government providing 65 per cent of the total.