Plaid Cymru is urging Caerphilly County Borough to look again at its proposals to move a rugby club to make way for a major school development at Ystrad Mynach.
The council has been consulting on plans to expand Trinity Fields School, which educates children with special needs. It would see the popular Penallta RFC being forced to move.
Councillor Colin Mann, leader of the Plaid Cymru group, said: “I totally support better facilities for the increasing numbers of children who attend the school. I do, however, wonder, if the full impact of the proposal on the community has been properly taken into consideration.
“Several rugby and soccer pitches, plus a cricket field, were lost when Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr was developed. I am not aware that the cricket field has ever been replaced. We have the very valuable all-weather facilities at the Centre of Sporting Excellence but the centre has obligations to professional teams which restricts use by the local community.
“In addition, there appears to be only one rugby pitch in Ystrad Mynach park that is playable most of the time. The ‘bottom’ field is often either waterlogged or actually under water.”
He also pointed to recent comments by Sophie Howe, Wales’ Future Generations Commissioner, on the importance of green spaces, when she said, there was need to “reimagine towns and cities so that everyone in the country will have a public green space within four minutes’ walk2".
“I know that the argument up to now is that alternative facilities are being offered to Penallta Rugby Club but serious doubt has now been cast on the safety of this proposal. The last thing we need is to endanger the health of our young people by encouraging the use of an area that has been frequently flooded with sewage overflow.
“The club has around 450 youth members, in addition to the adult teams. This is a very valuable resource for the community which should not be endangered. Meetings between officials, the Cabinet member and the club have been cancelled at short notice”
Ystrad Mynach councillor Martyn James said: “The time has come to consider what other means there are to provide the extra facilities needed by Trinity Fields. I support providing proper facilities to our disadvantaged young people. But this cannot be done by depriving the wider community of facilities that they have enjoyed for many years and should be able to continue to do so.
“Once green space has been lost it can’t be replaced. The school scheme would reduce the amount of open space for people, something we are told by government is crucial for people’s mental health as well as physical wellbeing. There is also a fear that if this development goes ahead it won’t be the last on this land.”
Fellow ward councillor Alan Angel added: “I’m aware many in the community don’t feel they are being listened to. Officers must not stick their heads in the sand and should look very carefully again at the impact of what they are proposing.
“The council has offered to create an alternative site at the Sue Noake Leisure Centre, land which has been flooded by sewage. No one should expect people to play on what appears to be unsuitable land and I’m aware that many parents have told the Penallta club that they are concerned about their children being asked to play on that site.”