The next stage in the 10-year saga to provide a brand-new primary school for the eastern side of Mullingar was confirmed this week with the news that compulsory purchase orders have been issued to the two landowners of the council’s favoured site just off the Ardmore Road.
This was revealed in reply to a question from Cllr Fintan Cooney enquiring after the status of this ongoing project to replace the outdated and overstretched facility at Curraghmore.
“Public notification of the CPOs will be in this week’s papers. Formal notice has already been sent to the landowners,” said Declan Leonard of the council’s executive staff.
“If there are no objections this could be decided on by December or January, but if there are, the process could be dragged out,” he pointed out.
He anticipated the process would take between four and six months before a planning application could be made for the 2 ha (5 acre ) site, and if this was granted, the new school plans could reasonably expect to be on the Department of Education’s building programme for 2013.
Cllr Cooney enquired whether the council had looked at an alternative, council-owned site in nearby Marlinstown that he believed may be better value, but was told that the Adrmore Road site is the preferred option.
In 2001, the Department of Education recommended the upgrade of Curraghmore NS; however, its policy in regard to the potential of future expansions dictates a minimum 4 acre site, which ruled out initial hopes to expand at the present 0.8 acre location.
In 2009 plans to piggy-back with Oliver Plunketts Hurling Club at their proposed new ground in Curraghmore fell through.
Later that year, whilst producing a local plan for the future development of the Ardmore/Marlinston area, the council zoned a site for educational purposes.
At the moment there are 210 pupils in the school, seven classes of whom are taught in prefabs, and since the Department’s concession in March 2001 that a new school was needed, it has spent just under €500,000 on the installation and provision of these temporary classrooms.
In April this year, after some opposition, the parents’ group came fully onside with this proposal as “the only option”.
“We’re happy with the start of the process... and we’re hoping after 10 years there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” said a spokesman for the parents’ group.
After the notification advertisement is circulated in the local press this weekend, the landowners have three weeks (December 9 ) to lodge an objection with An Bord Pleanala.
If there is no objection, the council itself may confirm the CPO, but if there is, An Bord Pleanala can either call for an oral hearingg or decide itself.
If the CPO is confirmed, the council is obliged to notify the landowner again, and place another public advertisement. The CPO will become active three weeks after this, and the council has 18 months within which to act upon it.