Councillors rezone lands for new Croom school

Colm Ward

Reporter:

Colm Ward

Cllr Kevin Sheahan plans to call on Minister Leo Varadkar to urge the HSE to grant access to the school site from the orthopaedic hospital
Local councillors have cleared the way for Croom’s new secondary school to go ahead but there has been criticism of the HSE for dragging its heels on a decision to allow part of its lands to be used for the entrance to the new campus.

Local councillors have cleared the way for Croom’s new secondary school to go ahead but there has been criticism of the HSE for dragging its heels on a decision to allow part of its lands to be used for the entrance to the new campus.

At this week’s meeting of the Adare Rathkeale area committee, it was agreed to amend the Croom Local Area plan to allow the new school to be built on a 21 acre site at Skagh, on the outskirts of the town.

This follows last September’s decision by An Bord Pleanala to reject an application to build the 1000-student school on the Skagh site on the basis that it was located on unzoned lands outside the village.

By passing changes to the local area plan this week, councillors have effectively rezoned the site for education and community use, paving the way for the new school to go ahead.

It is understood that a new planning application will be lodged in the coming weeks. This will in effect be a re-submission of the original application with an alternative entrance - through the grounds of the Orthopaedic hospital in Croom.

A number of discussions have taken place between Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB) and the HSE over access to the site but so far no decision has been made by the HSE to grant the access.

The delay in making this decision was criticised at this Tuesday’s council meeting, with Cllr Kevin Sheahan calling for the Minister for Health to be contacted asking him to “urge the HSE to move on this”.

His motion was supported by Cllr Stephen Keary who said he was “disappointed with the level of progress that has been made with the HSE”.

Cllr Tom Neville, urged the relevant bodies - the HSE, the ETB and the Department of Education - to work together to ensure the project became a reality.

In reply to a number of questions from Cllr Neville, George O’Callaghan, LCETB chief executive, confirmed that there had been a number of meetings between the HSE and the ETB to resolve the issue. “The HSE have not made a decision on the matter but we are meeting the chief executive and estates manager later this month,” he added.

Mr O’Callaghan confirmed that they “have had discussions about another alternative access from the Hospital Road if HSE approval is not forthcoming”.

Funding has been ringfenced for the development of the school at the Skagh site but councillors expressed fears that this could be lost if the project did not go ahead.

“It is disgusting that money is lying there waiting to be spent,” added Cllr Kevin Sheahan.

“There seems to be clearly a burning desire in Croom and the surrounding areas that this school would go ahead,” said Cllr Emmett O’Brien.