Mid Ulster District Council’s planning committee has approved plans to build a new 11 classroom primary school on the Coalisland Road in Dungannon.
Submitted by agent Hamilton Architects on behalf of applicant Edendork Primary School, permission has been granted to demolish St Malachy’s Parochial Hall at 163 Coalisland Road, Dungannon and build a new 11 classroom primary school with associated landscaping, vehicle access, car parking and hard and grass play areas.
A report brought before members of the council’s planning committee on Tuesday, June 7 notes the parochial hall on the site at present is vacant and access to the new school will be from the Killymeal Road.
It also notes that outline planning permission was granted in September 2009 for the erection of a 10 classroom primary school and 25 pupil nursery on the site.
The report also draws attention to comments form a number of individuals and Ulster Architectural Heritage that claim the parochial hall is of significant architectural and historic interest and amongst other things have claimed the building is an important landmark and an opportunity to provide space for the arts.
Following a consultation with the Department for Communities historical environment division the parochial hall is not deemed to be of “significant or special architectural and historic interest to justify listing”.
Having given the application due consideration, the planning officer in charge of assessing it recommended that planning permission is approved.
A design and access statement submitted as part of the application notes the new school will be built with a “high degree of sustainability and future proofed elements in coordination with client objectives”.
It also claims the school building itself will be developed into a hub for the local community and that the scale of the building is based on proportions of a farm yard building typically found in the school’s context.
Addressing the meeting, the council’s head of planning Dr Chris Boomer reminded the chamber the local authority had been asked to serve a building protection notice on the parochial hall which it declined to do.
“It is very telling because at that moment in time historic monuments and building branch were content that we serve that notice but we felt that it would be too risky,” said Dr Boomer.
“In coming to this decision they have decided they were happy for it to be knocked down and that shows our wisdom.
“We do always have to be mindful that if you serve a building preservation notice there can be compensation and I think this shows Council is the best judge of these things.”
A proposal to approve the application was then brought forward by Councillor Sean McPeake and seconded by Councillor Sean Clarke.
Speaking after the meeting, the Chair of Council’s planning committee, Councillor Cathal Mallaghan said the new school will address the challenges faced by both pupils at teachers at its present site.
“In Edendork, the new school will create modern educational facilities for teachers and pupils alike,” he said.
“It will also address the challenges which the school has faced on its existing site, particularly around vehicular access and parking.”