School plan for extra classrooms refused

A building to provide extra classrooms at a southside Cork girls’ secondary school has been refused planning permission by An Bord Pleanála.

Regina Mundi College in Douglas wanted to provide three extra classrooms and a dedicated resource teaching room in the development, for which approval was received by the city council in July.

But that decision was the subject of two third-party appeals, which have now been upheld by the board.

It deemed that an increased building footprint on the school site would impact on the amenity of the school and its students.

The all-girls school has more than 500 students and said it requires the extra space to facilitate wider subject choices rather than to allow for extra enrolments. It was built in 1981 on foot of an application for a 20-classroom school to accommodate 400 students, which was permitted with a condition stipulating no additional buildings, extensions, or prefabs would be allowed on the site.

Although two additional classrooms were built on foot of a 1988 grant of permission, An Bord Pleanála’s planning inspector said granting the latest application might contravene the original condition. The inspector’s report to the board also said it would seriously injure the amenity of properties in the area due to parking and the restricted nature of the site, which was one of the main concerns raised in the appeals.

The school had told the board the need for play and exercise areas was a reason for the original restriction on further buildings, but that students now have access to the nearby Nemo Rangers facilities for physical education and sports.

Regina Mundi principal Margaret Corcoran said the school respects the board’s decision but everyone is naturally very disappointed.

She said the educational landscape has radically changed since the school was first built and additional rooms are required to facilitate the teaching of a wider range of subjects. “We appreciate the ongoing, open dialogue between the school community and the local residents. We are now in the process of considering the most suitable alternative planning options,” she said. The school had been approved for Department of Education grant funding for the project.


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