A new £21 million replacement school for Lismore Comprehensive is set to be recommended for approval this week.
The proposals were first submitted last December.
And, as Armagh I revealed at the time, more than 20 new jobs could be created as a result of the state-of-the-art schools complex.
Planners have been studying in depth the proposals over recent months and their deliberations have involved everything from roads issues to flooding and visual impact assessments and even a bat survey.
A response to Roads Service concerns explains the proposed school is moving some 300m east of its current location, and the school has
“minor planned additional future pupil intake”; as previously reported, the current enrolment is 1,150, while staff numbers could increase from 136 to 158.
The response to Roads Service adds: “This proposed development will not have a detrimental impact on the surrounding road network. The traffic impact on the surrounding road network, catchment areas, broad existing vehicle and pedestrian approach desire lines will likely remain the same.”
Planners are now satisfied that the scheme – which will be a huge boost to the Craigavon area – should be allowed to proceed.
That is the opinion which will be presented to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s planning committee when it sits on Wednesday.
As Armagh I reported in December, when plans were lodged, the submission of formal proposals came more than two years after a pre-application consultation process got underway.
A planning statement – in support of the application by the Trustees of Lismore Comprehensive – described it as a “major investment in the school facilities that will provide a modern and welcoming environment for all pupils, staff and visitors alike”.
The ambitious project will also include three new sports pitches, four tennis courts, as well as new staff and visitor car parking, with access off the Monbrief Road. There would be a bus drop-off area, with a separate access on to the Monbrief Road.
Proposals also include landscaping and associated works.
With the new accommodation built, the scheme will see the demolition of the existing Lismore Comprehensive School on the Brownlow Road and Moyraverty Road.
The intention is that the site would then be cleared. Existing access points and drop-off parking areas will be retained. But the plan is to create an area of landscaped ‘green open space’ on the existing site.
The planning statement reveals that it is proposed the new school is constructed to the east of the current premises on 9.16 hectares of lands zoned as ‘open space’ and adds: “This will allow for a smooth transition from old to new school building at the start of an academic year with minimal impact on its staff and pupils.”
The former site will be converted to open space – around 9.27 hectares – to replace that which has been built upon.
The three new pitches will take the form of two grass and one synthetic and, while there are no plans for floodlighting them, it is expected they will be “made available for use by the wider public when the school is not in operation”.
The new school will be built with wide front courtyard “to create an inviting approach promoting caring and learning together with the community”.
The two-storey building has been designed to reference the shape of the ‘old stone fort of Lismore’, the remains of which are located within the existing school grounds.
The ground floor will include accommodation for, among others, Technology & Design, Home Economics, Science, Drama Department, English and History, as well as learning support classrooms and general classrooms.
There would also be a multi-purpose hall, gymnasium, sports hall and changing rooms.
Also included are admin, interview rooms and dining and kitchen areas.
Second floor features subjects including Art & Design, ICT, BIS, Media Studies, Music, Maths and Modern Languages and Geography.
It also includes other general classrooms as well as staff accommodation, a Sixth Form Centre, a library, fitness and changing and drama/lecture room.
The planning statement adds: “The development represents a £21 million investment in the area and will provide a modern and fit-for-purpose comprehensive school for the wider Craigavon area and for future generations.”
The application will now be recommended to councillors for approval on Wednesday.
It will then go to the full council sitting at the end of the month to be formally ratified.