Derry planning members ‘thrilled’ as they approve £33m Ardnashee project

It’s all systems go for the new £33m Ardnashee School complex after planning permission was granted at a meeting of Derry City and Strabane District’s Planning Committee.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 2:09 pm

The development of the new Ardnashee School and College will include playgrounds, ball courts, car parking and landscaping along with the new school building for 340 pupils with profound, moderate and severe learning difficulties aged 3-19.  The new single storey building will include two wings, providing accommodation for nursery, primary, post primary and specialist subjects, such as art, music and drama.  

Ardnashee School and College was established in 2014 from the amalgamation of Belmont House School and Foyle View School and for many years, the school, which caters for pupils with special needs, has been based on the Racecourse Road.

However, its current facilities are not adequate for its needs and there have been plans in place for a number of years for a move to a new purpose-built school at Northland Road on a large plot of land which became vacant when Foyle College moved to the Waterside in 2018.

Plans for the new school.

Sinn Féin Councillor Aileen Mellon said: “It’s been a long time coming. The staff at Ardnashee and the pupils have been waiting a long time.

“We can all agree that Ardnashee School and College is a great asset to this city and to our children and young people. I am glad we can see an environment built that will meet the needs of the young people where they can thrive.

“I want to commend everyone for getting it to this stage. I’m happy to propose this application is approved.”

DUP Ald. Hilary McClintock seconded the proposal saying: “It gives me great pleasure to second this because I was a member of staff at Ardnashee around 20 years ago. I was thrilled to read this application when it came before us. Ardnashee School was and is the heart of the community and it’s sad to see them leave Racecourse Road but it obviously no longer fulfilled the specific needs they have.

“I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to speak on this and to welcome this application.”

SDLP Colr. John Boyle described it as ‘a day for celebration’ adding: “It’s going to provide a wonderful opportunity to provide a bespoke school campus and an environment that is conducive to providing educational and recreational opportunities for young people of all ages and in particular young people with sometimes severe or moderate learning challenges.

“I live round the corner from it and I look forward to seeing the children coming into their new school. I can only imagine how excited the staff and pupils of the school will be when that glorious day arrives.”

PBP Colr. Shaun Harkin added: “This is a great site and a fantastic design, it’s what the students and educators deserve and I think people across the district will be very excited to see this moving forward.”

The decision to grant planning permission was unanimous. Speaking after the vote, Planning Committee Chair Colr. Christopher Jackson said: “It is very rare when you are reading the planning applications that it brings a smile to your face but this is certainly one. I am delighted this application has been approved.”

Work on the £33.92m new school is expected to start in late autumn this year and it is understood that the building of the complex will take around two years to complete.