Christian Brothers College (CBC), one of Cork’s best-known fee-paying schools, has been given the go-ahead for a €12.5m development at its Sidney Hill campus.
The development will include a new five-storey school house running parallel to St Patrick’s Hill with a substantial viewing area to the front looking out over the city.
CBC Principal David Lordan said the hope is that the money for the development “will come from within school resources” and that they are “not anticipating” funding from the Department of Education.
“We’ve been very fortunate that parents have been committed to supporting their sons coming here. This is an opportunity to plan ahead. From the outset, the school has been committed to preparing the college in terms of services and facilities for the next generation,” Mr Lordan said.
Mr Lordan said the hope is to have the new development student-ready by the start of the 2022 school term.
He said they are keen to “move things forward” and that they would be sitting down with their architects, O’Donnell+Tuomey, and the design team as soon as possible.
There are 33 conditions to work through as part of the permission. Mr Lordan said they related, inter alia, to issues such as pedestrian access, traffic management, footpaths and lighting in the area.
The issue of traffic congestion in the Wellington Road/Sidney Hill area was raised by a number of local residents in their submissions to Cork City Council during the planning process,
Those who made submissions can appeal the council’s decision to An Bord Pleanála within four weeks of January 13.
Some residents had also raised concerns that increasing the number of classrooms by eight as part of the new development would lead to an increase in pupils, creating further traffic congestion.
However Mr Lordan said it was not their intention to increase student numbers from the current cohort of just over 900 secondary school students, as well as the 160 pupils attending their co-located preparatory school.
“Our commitment is to enhance facilities, it’s not looking to grow the school in absolute numbers. We are looking at where second-level education is going and that requires looking down the road and future-proofing our campus,” Mr Lordan said.
The development was made possible on foot of the purchase a couple of years ago of lands adjoining the school at a cost of c€800,000. The school has been at its Sidney Hill location since 1988, having moved the short distance from Wellington Road.
The new development will also include a new library and digital suite in the new five-storey building, as well as a school hall. The preparatory school will gain a new library and a fire escape stair.
The new viewing platform will give students a vantage point from which to watch matches on the astro-turf pitch during breaktime. There will also be a covered seating area running down the side of the astro pitch.
Mr Lordan said they were “delighted with the decision by the City Council” to grant permission.
“It’s a significant investment in the school and in the city. What’s been very exciting about this from the get-go is that this area of the city is an educational hub. There are about 3,000 students attending educational institutions in the area and this is very much an endorsement of that hub.”
The development will also include the addition of a new 12.8m2 entrance porch to the existing main school building.
Mr Lordan said they will also be looking at improving access from St Patrick’s Hill for emergency services.
The 2019/2020 student fee for CBC is €4,250.