MORE than £1 million of taxpayers’ money has already been spent on plans for a Welsh-language secondary school and revamp for Duffryn High, it has been revealed.

The application for the new school and much-needed new classroom block at the site in Lighthouse Lane was thrown out at the start of this month, prompting a furious reaction from parents, teachers, pupils and campaigners.

But last week it was announced the £17 million project would get a second chance after it was decided it should be re-considered by every one of the 50 members of Newport City Council, rather than just the planning committee which rejected it.

Now, in an email seen by the Argus, the council’s cabinet member for education and young people councillor Debbie Wilcox has said it is estimated that “in excess of £1 million” has been spent on the plans – without a single brick being laid or planning permission even being granted.

The committee voted to block the plans on Wednesday February 3, after hearing Natural Resources Wales had expressed concerns around the possibility the site could flood – despite there being no record of any flooding in Duffryn since 1607.

In the email, Cllr Wilcox also says: “It was believed that the flood risk could be mitigated by on site construction works and comprehensive Flood Emergency Management Arrangements” and that Natural Resources Wales had not objected to the design of the development, only its location.

As part of the re-submission of the application, every organisation which legally has to be consulted into the plans – including Natural Resources Wales – must again be given the chance to make a representation.

But the organisation’s operations manager for south east Wales, Steve Morgan, said it had not yet been contacted again.

In a statement a council spokesman said building a new school was “a hugely complex, time consuming and expensive process”.

“An expenditure of approximately £1 million, or around £500k per school, is normal for projects of this scale, and in line with costs previously experienced to successfully deliver other similar projects,” he said.

“The current project is being delivered in association with Monmouthshire County Council, with the financial support of Welsh Government, and its costs are therefore carefully managed in line with best practice public sector guidelines.”

Monmouthshire County Council’s future schools programme manager Simon Kneafsey said: “The council is committed to the development of a new secondary Welsh medium school and will work alongside all stakeholders to ensure that a high quality Welsh medium secondary school is delivered within the consortium and within the timescales set.”

Although the project was originally slated to be complete this September and pupils had already been accepted to start at the new Welsh school – to be named Ysgol Gyfun Gwent Iscoed, after the historic name for the part of the region Newport lies in – it was announced last year that this had been pushed back a year and youngsters would instead have to share space at Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Teyrnon in Brynglas Drive.

The refusal of the application means this arrangement will have to continue until summer 2018.

The application is expected to be re-considered in May.

The Argus contacted Cllr Wilcox but she was not available to comment.