The project at St Angela’s College on St Patrick’s Hill may depend on approval from planners to move classes temporarily to the former Marymount Hospice building nearby on the north inner city.
The Department of Education has applied for the change of use, subject to agreement between the boards of the school and Marymount hospice, that would facilitate the school and its 525 students.
Cork City Council was due to decide on the application earlier this month but has put a decision back to early December, although a decision is likely before that.
But the biggest hurdle was cleared last week when An Bord Pleanála gave the go-ahead to the department for the works at the convent school which will celebrate its 125th year in 2012.
Among the planned changes, previously approved by the council, are the demolition of prefabs and extensions to the old Ursuline convent building, as well as refurbishment of the remaining buildings to include a new library.
The school has been waiting 12 years since the Department of Education approved the appointment of a design team.
But it was not until last March that a planning application for the works was lodged, leading to the council decision in May. An Bord Pleanála gave the project the green light after considering appeals from third parties.
“We’re looking forward to having fit-for-purpose facilities once all the remaining stages go as planned,” said principal Geraldine Quilter.
Many parts of the existing school are in use for more than a century and the conditions have been the subject of major campaigning to advance the development for more than a decade. As part of the development, ownership of the school land and buildings have been taken over by the Department of Education.
The project will involve restoration and refurbishment of the older buildings, and construction of a new sports and general purpose hall. New art and science blocks are also planned.
Although it may be dependent on funding in next year’s schools capital budget, the fact the plan has reached the stage where tender documents are drawn up to invite contractors to apply for the build, gives hope for a quick progression to the construction stage.