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Permission granted for two new schools in Sandymount despite local opposition

An Bord Pleanála rejected appeals by half a dozen parties against the decision of Dublin City Council to grant planning permission.

Roslyn Park in Sandymount
Roslyn Park in Sandymount
Image: GoogleMaps

PLANNING PERMISSION HAS been granted for a new two-school campus in the Dublin suburb of Sandymount, despite strong opposition from local residents groups.

An Bord Pleanála has approved the application by the Department of Education to build an Educate Together primary and secondary school on the existing campus at Roslyn Park in Sandymount.

It rejected appeals by half a dozen parties against the decision of Dublin City Council to grant planning permission for the new schools.

The proposed works involve the demotion of the existing school buildings on the Beach Road site including Roslyn College and Sandymount Park House.

The new two-storey primary school building will contain 24 classrooms, while the new three-storey secondary school building will have capacity for 1,000 students.

When completed, the two-hectare campus is expected to accommodate over 1,430 pupils and 140 teaching staff which will make it one of the largest schools in Dublin.

Pupils from the existing Shellybanks Educate Together School and students from the Sandymount Park Educate Together secondary school who are currently housed in temporary buildings on the Roslyn Park campus will move to the new facility.

Subject to compliance with a number of planning conditions, the board ruled that the development of the two new schools would not seriously injure the residential or visual amenities of the area.

It also concluded that the plans were acceptable in terms of road safety and would not pose a risk of flooding despite being located in a flood zone due to proposed mitigation measures.

Addressing another concern of local residents, the board said the new buildings would not seriously detract from the existing Roslyn Park House which is a protected structure designed by architects, James Gandon.

However, it ordered a number of modifications to the plans including the removal of two classrooms from the top floor of the post-primary school and limiting construction to two storeys at one side of the building.

The board also requires an upgrade of the local road network including the mini roundabout at the junction of Beach Road and Newgrove Avenue before any building works can start.

Opponents of the project included the Sandymount and Merrion Residents Association which claimed the Department of Education had not provided a robust rationale for a school campus of such a scale which the group claimed was too large for the site and local population needs.

Although SAMRA supported the principle of the site being used as an educational campus, it claimed the new facility would need to attract students from outside the Dublin 2 and Dublin 4 catchments areas to fill the schools with a consequent impact on traffic levels in the area.

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The Department of Education claimed there was a proven and urgent, evidence-based need for a new primary and post-primary school to serve that part of the south city around Sandymount.

The department said it was wholly unrealistic and unsustainable for objectors to suggest that future schools in urban locations should be accommodated on sites of at least six hectares as such amount of land would not be available

The Seafort Avenue Residents Group claimed the development would have a severe negative effect on neighbouring properties in terms of overlooking and loss of daylight.

A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General in 2019 revealed that the Department had paid €4m more to Rehab to acquire the Roslyn Park site for the new schools than the amount contained in an independent valuation report.

The State’s spending watchdog noted the department had not used external negotiation expertise when deciding to pay €20.5m for the site in October 2016.

An independent valuation had estimated the lands to be worth €16.5m.

The department claimed it had submitted a higher bid to secure the site after being informed by Rehab that there were a number of parties interested in acquiring the property.

About the author:

Seán McCárthaigh

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