Work on a £9.2 million new build for Rossmar Special School in Limavady is on course to start in the New Year, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.
The go-ahead for the new school was given in June 2012 and a business case was approved in 2013. However, a revised business case had to be submitted and wasn’t approved until 2015. Following that, work was due to start this Autumn.
Rossmar Principal, Brian McLaughlin, said the delay was down to several issues, including bat and drainage surveys on the site and planning. He said a classroom, outside the main school, had to be demolished before any work on the new build can begin. Now planning permission has been granted for a replacement building, Mr. McLaughlin hopes it won’t be long before diggers are on site.
“If we can see work start on the replacement building I think that would be physical manifestation that it is happening. People have waited for this for so long and they’re anxious to get it started,” said Mr. McLaughlin.
Serena Gallagher’s seven-year-old daughter, Croise, is at Rossmar Special School. She said staff and pupils deserve a new school. “It will be good to see everything updated and see staff and pupils use it better,” said the Dungiven mum. “At the minute, everything is run down, but that will change with the new school. Staff work so hard and they cope so well with the facilities they have to use, so it will be good to see diggers on the ground.”
“A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said: “Rossmar Special School in Limavady was included in the Department’s announcement of June 2012 listing 18 major capital investment projects to advance in planning.
“A business case for the project was originally approved in October 2013; however following a review of the need for special school provision for post-16 pupils in the area, a revised business case was submitted and approved in March 2015.
“The approved business case total project cost is £9.2m.
“An Integrated Consultant Team, Samuel Stevenson, has been appointed and designs are now well progressed and a planning application has been submitted.
“Work is underway to procure a contractor to take forward the build and it is anticipated that work may commence on site early in the New Year.”
The go ahead for a new-build for Rossmar was given by previous Stormont education minister John O’Dowd.