Residents opposed to new school building

Residents opposed to new school building

Residents opposed to new school building

Declan MAgee

One of Donegal's best-known secondary schools is facing objections to the construction of a €7 million new school building.

Two objections, including one from a local residents group, have been made to the application by St. Eunan's College, Letterkenny to construct a new 900 pupil school building on the site of the existing school at College Road.

The school says the new building is essential for it to provide proper education facilities for a growing enrolment. But residents in the Hawthorn Heights area of the town, right behind the school, have objected to the plans.

Residents consider the new building to be over-development of a limited site and believe the school should be developing the new buidling on playing fields close to the school or on a new green field site.

The school invited residents to see the plans just before they were submitted in November, but the Hawthorn Heights Residents' Association say they are disappointed that the school's board of management did not enter into earlier consultations about the plans. Issues such as parking and noise associated with the school, already impact on residents, they say.

The residents also say they are concerned about the future of the present school, the protected Castle Building, if the development of the new school building goes ahead, and that an architectural assessment should be carried out.

Letterkenny Town Council has requested further information from the school on the plans including a heritage impact assessment, a road safety audit and a land survey to assess the levels of adjoining houses.

Principal of St. Eunan's College, Chris Darby, said the new building is essential for the school as its pupils are being disadvantaged by its facilities compared to other schools in the area and other parts of the country. Mr. Darby said he has been in contact with the residents' association. "They know that we have an open door here and if they want to come in and talk to us, that is no problem at all," he said.

"We are not able to offer the education to the level of people that we would like to, given the current facilities," he added.

"One of the reasons this is such an urgent project is because of the population and the indicators are that we are going to have in excess of 900 pupils for five or six years to come, at least,

"The department are aware of that from their own analysis that they have done on population tracking and this is long overdue wherever it lands. I make no apologies to the residents in saying that this is the plan. My ideal would be a green field site with a brand new purpose-built building outside the town but this is the plan that is most advanced and my job is to get a new building as quickly as possible."