No date set

It will be weeks before the Department of Education are ready to submit a planning application for the Portlaoise Parish schools to Laois County Council council.

It will be weeks before the Department of Education are ready to submit a planning application for the Portlaoise Parish schools to Laois County Council council.

According to a spokesperson for the Department, the design team have been working on the design of the new school.

“A stage 2(a) submission (developed design) was received in the Department earlier this month. The submission is currently being reviewed. Assuming no issues arise, the next stage for the project will include the application for planning permission and the preparation of tender documents,” the spokesperson said.

The project for St Paul’s, Sacred Heart and Scoil Mhuire who will amalgamate into one school on the Aughnaharna site was included in the recent announcement of the 5 year construction programme. It was announced to commence construction in 2013.

The department spokesperson said that normally reviews of stage submissions take a couple of weeks.

“When the review is complete the Department will be in touch with the school with it’s observations,” the spokesperson said.

Last weekend, Portlaoise Parish Priest Msgr John Byrne revealed that the parish were preparing to take out a loan to purchase the site for the school at Auhghnaharna.

“The amalgamation project is to move to construction in 2013 and Scoil Bhride in 2014. This will involve the Parish completing the purchase of the site at Augnaharna at a cost of €1.25million and the provision of additional land at Knockmay.”

The Presentation Sisters have offered to share the cost of the site with the parish and each will contribute €625,000.

But it could be next year before the Parish are required to raise the finance.

“It could be this calendar year or next year, but we have been preparing for it,” he said.

While, a planning application for new schools for Portlaoise Educate Together, Gaelscoil Portlaoise and Maryborough NS who are also set to relocate to new schools on a shared campus in Summerhill could be submitted in the coming weeks.

“The Department is meeting with Portlaoise Educate Together, Gaelscoil Portlaoise and Maryborough NS within the next fortnight with a view to lodging planning permission shortly afterwards,” the Department spokesperson said.

The three schools are part of a rapid build project, which is being led by the Department and expected to take just nine months to complete.