The 13-year quest to build a new €4.03million primary school for the eastern suburbs of Mullingar moved one step closer to conclusion this week with the news that planning permission is expected before “the end of June”.
In a letter from county manager Pat Gallagher to Cllr Peter Burke he wrote that the council hoped to present “a Part 8 application for the approval of members by mid-2014”.
This is bureaucrat-speak for a local authority giving planning permission to itself to construct a public building on its own site.
Also, with funding, site, design, and contract secured, Mr Gallagher confirmed “a completion date of September 2016” on the 2.03 hectares (5 acres ) site.
It is located a little under halfway down the Ardmore Road, and roughly opposite Ardmore Close, and was initially earmarked in the Ardmore/Marlinstown Local Area Plan in 2009.
“We’d expect the Part 8 by the end of June. Last year I was delighted to hear that pen had been put to paper and the contract was signed off. I have been putting down questions on Curraghmore school for many years and to now see further light at the end of the tunnel is even more encouraging,” said Cllr Burke, who is optimistic the build may be completed sooner than the council projected.
He explained that because the Department now had a template design for this size of school, there would less room for delay between architects’ drawings and ground being broken.
The plan to provide the 16-classroom primary school has been ongoing for over 13 years since the Department of Education first conceded the existing Curraghmore facility “is too small” in March 2001.
At present there are 210 pupils in the school, seven classes of whom are taught in prefabs, and since the Department’s concession in 2001, it has spent just under €500,000 on the installation and provision of these temporary classrooms.
In 2007, the Department said it was “committed to the development of Curraghmore NS” and advised the acquisition of a 4-acre site “as close to the current location as possible”.
Things looked briefly up for the then board of management, who had hoped for a piggy-back with the Oliver Plunkett Hurling Club in its plans to re-locate to Curraghmore after selling its Robinstown site for development.
However, in 2009 when An Bord Pleanála overturned Plunkett’s permission, all eyes then turned to the Ardmore/Marlinstown Local Area Plan.
On November 18, 2011, Westmeath County Council issued a compulsory purchase order for the site - zoned for educational purposes as part of the Plan - and this was finalised the following July 2.
Since then, its inclusion on the Department’s building schedule for 2015-16 practically cast the project in stone.