DUBLIN CITY councillors have voted to block the Holy Faith Sisters from demolishing their 100-year-old secondary school on Haddington Road, Dublin and redeveloping the site as an up-market residential scheme.
The school had been run by the order since 1901, but closed in June 2007 after its final Leaving Certificate students completed their exams.
The order is seeking planning permission to demolish the school and part of the convent and a chapel on the same site. It wants to build 11 four-bedroom houses, two apartments and a three-storey 11-bedroomed convent with a new chapel. It also wants to convert part of the existing convent into two four-bedroom houses.
Councillors last night said the sisters should not be granted planning permission for the development because of the lack of schools in the area.
"We can't sell off our schools to support the living standards of nuns. The nuns are entitled to a better standard of living in the future, but we can't see another educational institution in this area going," Labour councillor Dermot Lacey said.
In the 2004 city development plan the councillors put "Z15" zoning on the lands, which aims to maintain institutional use of a site. Although residential development is open for consideration in this zoning, Sinn Féin councillor Daithi Doolan said the councillors had thought they were protecting the land from being sold to developers.
"We predicted in 2004 that the Holy Faith Sisters would try to sell off the land. We need a school here, not the selling off of our resources, and I thought we had protected this school from that," Mr Doolan said.
An educational needs assessment of the area should be conducted before any decision on the planning application was reached, Labour councillor Oisín Quinn said.
"This is a school that was open until quite recently and I feel this is completely the wrong application at completely the wrong time. Without us being confident that there is sufficient secondary education in the area, without a needs assessment being conducted I don't think this can be given permission."
Councillors recommended that the city planners refuse permission for the development. While the decision is ultimately made by the planners, they must have regard to the councillors' views.
The Irish Times