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19/10/2021

Portarlington school project not ready for planning permission application

New school yet to be approved by the Department of Education and detailed designs are some way off

portarlington laois offaly

Like these Coláiste Íosagáin students plans for the new school are still at a the staring line.

The Department of Education is making plans for a new secondary school building in Portarlington but  the project is not yet cleared for planning permission to be sought in remains at the earliest stage in the process.

Minister of State Martin Heydon, is a Government TD for South Kildare which takes in the Laois Offaly town. While he claimed that the long wait for progress on a new school building for Colásite Íosagáin, Portlarlington is nearly over, he added that the Department is still working on the first set of designs.

In doing so, he clarified a claim by another constituency TD that the designs were completed and ready to be submitted to Laois County Council. Dr Cathal Berry said the project had moved to Stage 2.

Information provided to Minister Heydon by the Department shows that the project remains at preliminary Stage 1 of the process. There are five stages in the process to build a new school before builders can move on site. A detailed design has to be completed followed by tendering. 

“The major building project to design and build a new school for Coláiste Íosagáin in Portarlington is currently at Stage 1 of Architectural Planning, which entails preliminary site and design options," said Minister Heydon.

"This stage has taken considerable time as different options and sizes for the new school were considered. The Department have said that it is anticipated that the Stage 1 Report will be finalised and submitted to the Department within a month, for review, with a date to be arranged for presentation by the Design Team to the school and the Department.

“While it is good to see progress expected on the project, the length of time that is has taken to get this far is a source of concern and frustration for staff, parents and students alike," said Minister Heydon.

He said the Laois Offaly town needs more secondary school places.

“Similar to many areas, the pressure for school places around Portarlington, particularly at secondary level has increased significantly in recent years and needs to be addressed.  Progress is well advanced on a new school build for St Pauls in Monasterevin which also experienced significant delays in its progress.

"I continue to highlight these concerns and delays to Minister Norma Foley and her Department to highlight the need for speedy progress in the area and I will continue to push for more progress on a new school for Coláiste Íosagáin," said the Fine Gael TD.

Dr Berry claimed the project would cost €25 million but Minister Heydon or the Department made no reference to a budget.

A number of proposals for the Port school have already been submitted and revised. The latest was the option between an extension and a new school where the existing building is located off the Bog Road on the Offaly side of the town.

The Department confirmed to Minister Heydon that the Department's Design Team has been instructed to provide an initial sketch scheme for a 1,300 pupil new build school, and to submit their proposals to the Department for review.

It added that officials from the Professional and Technical Section of the School Building Unit have held a number of interim architectural design workshops with the Consultant Architect to provide assistance and guidance to complete the scheme in compliance with Department Technical Guidance documents.

They said the Design Team Architect is preparing a revised option (option 20), taking account of comments provided by the Department.

The Department added that it is anticipated that the Stage 1 Report will be finalised and submitted to the Department within a month, for review, with a date to be arranged for presentation by the Design Team to the school and the Department.

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