A ceremonial turf cutting event has taken place in Criccieth to celebrate the start of construction work on a new school site.

The ground for the new Ysgol Treferthyr was cut by Cllr Beca Brown, cabinet member for education, and some learners from the school. They were joined by the head and deputy heads, the chair of governors, Cllr Elwyn Jones, chair of Gwynedd Council, officers from the council’s education and housing and property departments, the chair of Cricieth Town Council and Wynne Construction team.

The £8m project, funded by the Welsh Government through the Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme and Gwynedd Council, will offer 150 spaces as well as an Early Years Unit and an Additional Learning Assessment Unit. Located around 500m west of the current school, the new site will be delivered by Wynne Construction.

Cllr Beca Brown said she was “delighted to see work start on the new school which, when finished, will provide modern facilities for the children of Cricieth and allow them to reach their full potential”.

“The new school will feature six classrooms with external access, a hall, kitchen and a multipurpose room. The outside area will have a hard surface space for play, a multi-use games area and a grass playing field.

“Although the old school has been a much-loved feature of the town, I’m confident that the learners, their families and the teaching staff will be excited by the prospect of the new school.”

Head teacher Karena Owens said: “School staff were active in the design process of the new building from the very beginning and although the project had to overcome several obstacles over the past few years, it’s great to see that the construction stage of the new building has started.

“Everyone at Ysgol Treferthyr is excited and looking forward to moving to the new site in September 2024. The amazing building will certainly be an excellent resource and a great educational asset for the learners, staff, Governors and the community for the future.”

Andy Lea, project manager from Wynne Construction, added: “We are really pleased to be working, once again, with Gwynedd Council on this prestigious new school for the staff and pupils of Criccieth. As always, throughout the construction process, we will look to leave a lasting legacy, by creating job and training opportunities, working with our local supply chain and engaging with the community and key stakeholders.

“Providing a modern 21st century school facility where young children can learn and develop in an inspirational environment is paramount and reinforces our commitment to delivering a legacy for Gwynedd as a whole. We look forward to getting the project underway.”

The planning application was submitted in 2021, but an archaeological inspection was required, as well as further work in collaboration with the highways and municipal department on plans for safe routes to the new school. Permission was granted in September 2022 following completion of this work. Further delays were caused by rising material and energy costs. The original budget of around £5m was no longer sufficient. Following planning approval an application was made to increase funding to just over £8m which was approved by both council’s cabinet and the Welsh Government.