New school ‘unlikely’ to start before late 2020

Foyle College Junior School, Northland Road Derry before it was gutted in a fire in July 2018.
Foyle College Junior School, Northland Road Derry before it was gutted in a fire in July 2018.

Construction work on a £20m new school for Ardnashee School & College is unlikely to begin before the latter half of 2020, the Department of Education has confirmed.

The Department confirmed its intention to build a new school and college on the former Foyle College Junior School site on Northland Road a year ago, and has now reiterated that this remains the preferred location.

Fire Service at the former Foyle College Junior School, on the Northland Road, Derry, following a blaze back in July 2018. Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye.

Fire Service at the former Foyle College Junior School, on the Northland Road, Derry, following a blaze back in July 2018. Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye.

The vacant Junior School building was gutted in a fire in July last year, six months after Foyle College’s relocation to a new school on the Limavady Road.

The relocation of Ardnashee 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 said a year ago that work could start during the financial year from April 2019, to March 2020, however, a spokesperson for the Department has now confirmed to the ‘Journal’: “The Department is currently considering the Stage 2 (Concept Design) submission for the Ardnashee School and College project.

“The preferred option remains to locate the new build school on the former Foyle College Junior School site at Northland Road in Londonderry.

“The Department is working closely with the Education Authority on the review of the school design and estimated costs.

“The project has not yet progressed to Developed Design (Stage 3), Technical Design (Stage 4) and Construction Procurement, therefore, it is unlikely that construction work will commence before the latter half of 2020.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said last year that an agreement was in place “to purchase the Foyle College site for Ardnashee School and College once Foyle College fully vacates the site”.

She added at the time: “A business case has been completed with the preferred option being a new build school 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 currently caters for up to 270 pupils aged between three and 19 who have learning difficulties and associated disabilities.