A much-needed three-school campus in a rapidly expanding Cork town has finally received the green light following a series of setbacks spanning eight years.
Announced in 2012 as a 'rapid build', the Carrigtwohill School Campus project has suffered a litany of delays due to a series of unsuccessful planning applications. This week, it was granted planning permission by Cork County Council subject to certain conditions.
The completed project, which brings together Scoil Mhuire Naofa, Scoil Chliodhna CNS, and Carrigtwohill Community College on the same campus, will cater for up to 1,000 secondary school students, as well as the two primary schools and special education classes.
Demand for school places in Carrigtwohill increased exponentially in recent years as its population grew, along with its neighbouring town of Midleton.
First opened in 2016, Carrigtwohill Community College currently occupies a former office block and pre-fabricated buildings.
At the beginning of March, Cork Education and Training Board (CETB) the school's patron, agreed to create an additional class of incoming-first years to help address a shortage of school places.
The approval of the development by Cork County Council marked a great day for everyone associated with the project, a spokesperson for the Carrigtwohill Schools Community said:
“We look forward to seeing the children of Carrigtwohill and surrounds finally receiving the top class educational facilities they deserve and we will continue to work with the relevant authorities to ensure that promises are fulfilled.”
The development will include the construction of two new 24-classroom buildings with two-class special needs units for Scoil Mhuire Naofa and Scoil Chliodhna.
A three-storey building for Carrigtwohill Community College will give the school space to expand to up to 1,000 students. It will include three classrooms for students with special needs. The plans will also include PE halls, support teaching spaces and secure play areas.
Labour TD Sean Sherlock said: “It is encouraging that planning has been granted now. What we need to do is to ensure that there is a follow-through by the department to ensure that the school will actually be built."
There are questions marks over capital spending given the current scenario with Covid-19, he added: "We need to see this project up and running."
Students, parents and teachers have understandably been concerned about the delays associated with the project, according to Fine Gael TD David Stanton.
"Despite the current restrictions, I would hope that the process would run smoothly from here and I would expect that the Department of Education and Skills will begin to progress the tendering and construction process in due course," Mr Stanton said.