The Department of Education has confirmed its intention to build a new £20m school and college on the recently vacated Foyle College site.
The new Ardnashee School and College is to be built on the former Foyle College Junior School site on Northland Road, and will see the transfer of primary and secondary school pupils from their current campus at Belmont off Racecourse Road in the coming years.
The Department has confirmed that work could start as early as 2019.
The move follows Foyle College’s recent move from its split campus on Duncreggan Road and Northland Road to a purpose-built new school in the Waterside.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education told the Journal: “An agreement is in place to purchase the Foyle College site for Ardnashee School and College once Foyle College fully vacates the site.”
She added: “The planned new build for Ardnashee School and College will be located on the former junior site of Foyle College on Northside Road.
“A business case has been completed with the preferred option being a new build school on the site rather than the refurbishment of the existing school. Business case approval is in place for a circa £20m investment.
“Funding has been allocated to advance the project through planning and design. As with all major projects, when the design is complete a further review of available capital funding will take place at which point the timing of the construction work will be decided.
“Currently it is anticipated that the project will be on-site in the 2019/20 financial year.”
Ardnashee School and College caters for up to 270 pupils aged between three and 19 who have learning difficulties and associated disabilities.
Foyle SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said he was sure the plans would be “welcomed by all”.
Speaking after an SDLP delegation met with Mr Patrick Allen, Principal of Foyle College, Mr Durkan said his party was also now calling for a co-ordinated approach to maximising the benefit of the entire old Foyle College estate for the city.
He said a deal between Foyle and Ulster University on the future of the remaining parcels of land, namely the old Senior School on Duncreggan Road and the extensive playing fields, “has yet to materialise”.
Mr Durkan called on Ulster University to “put their money where their mouth is” to facilitate the expansion of the Magee campus.
“These sites represent the perfect opportunity to bank land for future faculty expansion or creation, top class sporting facilities and managed student accommodation and car parking,” he said.
Mr Durkan also called on the local council to work in partnership with other organisations to ensure “that these key strategic sites are developed as quickly as possible”.