THERE have been renewed calls for a new secondary school to be built in the Mungret area after An Bord Pleanala refused permission this week for a new facility in Croom which was set to be the largest post primary school project ever undertaken in Limerick.
The planning authority upheld a number of objections to the €12m school at Skagh on the outskirts of the village.
According to City West Labour party councillor Joe Leddin, while there is widespread disappointment at the decision “it gives us an opportunity and time to look at the whole situation regarding what the actual needs of the students are and where the demand for actual schools are coming from.”
“The reality is that a substantial percentage of the students who are attending Colaiste Chiarain in Croom - which is a fine school - are travelling from the city or the city environs such as Raheen/Dooradoyle. I think the figure is in excess of 50% which is quite large,” he pointed out.
“Parents are telling me that their son or daughter is leaving the house at 7am or 7.15am to get a bus down to Croom. School is challenging for children – let alone adding a couple of extra hours on through journey times.”
In April, the local authority granted planning permission for the new school to replace Colaiste Chiaran in Croom.
The Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board, formerly known as the VEC applied to build a two-storey school for around 1,000 pupils, including playing pitches, playing areas, car and bus parks and a new entrance. The local authority attached 30 conditions to the permission.
However, this decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanala by two men with addresses in Cork.
Limerick City and County Council have purchased a 200-acre site around Mungret College and provision has been made for two new primary schools for Gaelscoil an Ráithín and Education Together but there have also been calls from parents for a new post primary school on the site.
“If you look at the demographic - Raheen, Dooradoyle, Mungret, you are talking 10,000-plus houses. There is a substantial amount of families with children living in that area but not the appropriate infrastructure to meet the needs, such as schools,” said Cllr Leddin.
The planning authority refused permission for the school in Croom saying the site is on unzoned land outside of the Croom Local Area Plan.
“I would have to question the decision to buy a site down in Croom to facilitate 1,000-plus students where there is a substantial cohort of those travelling from the city,” continued Cllr Leddin. “An Bord Pleanala also mentioned one of the reasons for refusal was that the site had a potential risk of flooding. One has to ask questions about the suitability of the site and the decision by the planners in Limerick County Council to actually grant planning.”
Deputy Niall Collins said: “Unfortunately, the losers are the pupils and the staff. The Educational Training Board needs to move as quickly as possible to develop the existing campus and the available lands adjacent.”