Delight at go-ahead for £40m relocation

Foyle College Senior School, Northland Road. DER2714MC038
Foyle College Senior School, Northland Road. DER2714MC038

The chairman of the board of governors at Foyle College has expressed delight that planning permission has now been granted for its relocation.

Robin Young said plans for a new school was first mooted almost 20 years.

He was speaking after Derry City Council’s Planning Committee rubber-stamped permission for a £40million project which will see both Foyle and Ebrington Primary School move to a split campus site at the former army base at Clooney.

The successful application by Foyle and the Western Education and Library Board, will mean that pupils will be moved in time for the school’s 400th anniversary celebrations in 2017.

The school was founded by Matthias Springham in 1617 with backing from the Merchant Taylors Company.

Mr Young, who attended Tuesday’s meeting at the Guildhall in person, said: “We are absolutely delighted. It has been a long time coming. It was back in 1995 when the first project was started with outline designs for a new school.

“Every ‘t’ has been crossed and after getting this approval, we will finish off the cost estimates and the plan is we will go to market at the end of August, with the firm who will ultimately build the school appointed probably in November, to start on site, weather dependant, in December.”

The building of Ebrington Primary School is expected to take around 18 months, meaning they could be in their new school by May 2016.

The new Foyle College is expected to be completed by October/ November 2016 “just in time to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Foyle College in 2017”, Mr Young said.

The Clooney site was purchased in 2009, and Education Minister John O’Dowd approved funding in June 2012.

“This is state of the art education,” Mr Young said. “We currently work off two sites. A split site isn’t ideal.”

The University of Ulster has been given first option on acquiring the Duncreggan Road senior school site, and the playing field sites at the other school. The junior school site may be sold off to a developer or business.

Speaking at the meeting DUP Waterside Councillor Drew Thompson welcomed the planning consent for the move.

“It’s a good move,” he said. “I look forward now to the school getting a building and to welcoming the pupils to the Waterside.”

SDLP Waterside Councillor, said: “As someone whose children went to Foyle College I welcome the fact they were getting a new facility.”

He added that the relocation was “slightly tinged with sadness” because it meant Foyle College would be leaving the west bank.

A recently conducted supplementary environmental analysis on the Clooney site carried out by the applicants is understood to be under consideration.