Friday 18 January 2008

Demolition before Decentralisation

ENNISCORTHY TOWN Council has published notice that it proposes to demolish the former Presentation Convent in Enniscorthy.

The site has been earmarked for the proposed decentralisation of An Bord Bia and An Bord Glas to the town, having been deemed suitable by the Office of Public Works (OPW) a number of years ago.

The existing convent building on Nunnery Road, however, is not suitable for adaptation as modern-day offices.

Padraig O'Gorman, Town Clerk, confirmed that the Council is seeking to demolish the convent but retain and secure the adjoining Presentation Chapel.

The Chapel will remain in the ownership of the Town Council. Renamed the Eileen Gray Community Centre, it will be used as an exhibition and performance space, as well as a facility for community meetings and events.

The old nuns' graveyard, also in the grounds of the convent, will transfer to the OPW which will take over responsibility for its maintenance, allowing access to the public.

"We have started part eight of the planning process, to demolish the site," said Mr. O'Gorman, explaining that the OPW would acquire the site once it is cleared.

"From their point of view it is cleaner that they buy a clear secured site for construction."

Mr. O'Gorman assured that the contracts had already been prepared for the OPW's acquisition of the land for the purposes of decentralisation. If for any reason the decentralisation is prevented from taking place, the land will revert back to the Town Council, he said.

"There is a condition in the contract that if the site is not used for the purposes of decentralisation, the deal will fall through."

Mr. O'Gorman is confident that this will not happen.

"The understanding we have is that Enniscorthy decentralisation is one that they can progress. Co. Wexford has been very successful to date with decentralisation the Department of Agriculture's move to Johnstown Castle has been one of the most successful to date in the country," he said.

Once the Presentation Convent is demolished and the site's ownership transferred, the OPW will have to apply for planning permission for approval for the new offices.

It is envisaged that the move of both Bord Bia and Bord Glas to Enniscorthy will generate 100 jobs for the town. Meanwhile, the Eileen Gray Community Centre should be open to the public by late summer 2008. Although originally planned to be opened earlier, the Council decided to wait until the demolition work had been completed.

Mary Frances Ryan
Enniscorthy Echo

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