Tuesday 15 September 2009

Divisive gaelscoil project hit with fresh planning difficulty

PLANS for a new gaelscoil which have split a community on Cork’s northside have been hit with another planning difficulty.

City manager Joe Gavin told councillors last night that the amount of land at the Tank Field earmarked for the construction of a new Gaelscoil an Gort Alainn building has to be reduced.

If the project proceeded as planned, it would have meant that Brian Dillon GAA club pitches due to be built on the rest of the Tank Field would have had goalposts located under high tension electricity wires.

Mr Gavin said following lengthy discussions, the only solution was to reduce from 2.44 acres to two acres, the amount of land available for the school.

The Department of Education has advised that the smaller site is adequate for the school, he said.

And the department has been advised that the reduction in land would not be a material change and the current planning permission can be acted upon. The department has asked the council to confirm this position.

Mr Gavin told councillors that the only issue before him now is to determine whether or not the reduction in land for the school requires another planning application, or whether it can proceed as planned.

Fine Gael councillor Jim Corr urged Mr Gavin to get the best possible advice on the matter.

Mr Gavin also agreed to a request from Fianna Fáil’s Tim Brosnan to meet residents both supporting and opposing the gaelscoil project.

The gaelscoil project has been one of the most divisive planning issues in the city for years.

Councillors decided as far back as 2005 to sell at an agreed price, and subject to planning, a 2.3 acre portion of the 11-acre Tank Field site to the Department of Education, which had sought planning permission for a new building for the gaelscoil.

But a massive local campaign was mounted to block the project. Opponents wanted to fight the loss of the local amenity which was zoned for sports use.

Councillors voted 15-13 in late 2007 to rezone a portion of the site to allow the school project proceed but because a two-thirds majority was needed, the rezoning did not go ahead.

However, in April 2008, an Bord Pleanála granted planning permission for the school.

The department wants to build a 16-classroom school for the gaelscoil which has been accommodated in prefabs since it opened 16 years ago.

Mr Gavin is expected to make his decision on the issue within three weeks.

Irish Examiner


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