Plans are afoot to move some of the classrooms at the Ardee Educate Together school across the road to a vacant office building, owned and formerly used by Farrell Furniture.
A planning application has been filed with Louth County Council which would see three classrooms moved to the building directly across the road, as well as the conversion of two offices at the front of the build be converted into special education teaching rooms. A hard surface play area will also be constructed to the rear of the building.
The yard exterior of the office building is shared by a local business – East Coast Alloys – and the vehicle entrance/exit onto the Dundalk Road is a busy one, with trucks and lorries regularly entering the yard area . The planning permission application, lodged by the school’s Board of Management, also includes designated secure pedestrian access off the existing entrance. This will include heavy duty bollards and a palisade fence.
The pedestrian access will run to the right hand side of the entrance/exit from the road and will run along the existing wall that separates the commercial premises from the adjacent residential building. A decision on the application is due on September 1.
In March, ex-Minister for Education Joe McHugh confirmed that the new Ardee Educate Together school on the Kells Road had gone to tender, meaning contractors could be appointed to the project and work, in earnest, could begin on the ground of the long awaited new build.
A contractor has already been on site to commence work for ESB and Bord Gais networks.
It has been a long wait for the teachers, staff and parents of the Educate Together school in Ardee, with their new building in the pipeline for years to this point. Two years ago, people attached to the project were of the belief that the pupils could be in their new school building at some stage during the 2019/20 academic year. To put the delays into context, a contractor has not yet been appointed to construct the school.
The work to convert rooms in the office building into classrooms and specialist rooms for special needs teaching, as well as the external works such as the building of a hard play area indicate that this is a medium-term to help the school cope with the capacity of children enrolled at the multi-denominational school.
When Ardee Educate Together finally move to their long-awaited new school, they will be packing up and moving to a site a startling 17 times the size of their current location. While their current location could be described as quaint, cosy and close-knit – the reality is the school has far outgrown their current building.
The 151 pupils in the multi-denominational, all-faith school are currently operating out of just one in-building classroom and a number of prefab units, some of which have been in use since the school first opened 18 years ago. The current school building was first built in the 1800s.
When LouthNow.ie visited the school in 2018, the building and it’s prefabs were packed solid. Staff said their next step to make more room for students would be to convert a small kitchenette used by teachers and staff into additional storage space.
Plans for the brand new €5 million Ardee Educate Together school on the Kells Road were passed by councillors at the Ardee Municipal District meeting held in April 2018.
Last September, it emerged that ‘significant archaeological finds’ were recorded in and around the vicinity of the new site. The project was described as a ‘challenging project to plan’.
Fire Safety Certificates and Disabled Access Certificates were received in late 2018, and a preliminary Health and Safety Plan was completed in late April 2019. The Department of Education also said there is ‘also a need to carefully plan and design the site’s road access from the N52,’ saying this prolonged the planning process.
However, planning permission was granted in 2018 but progress has been slow ever since. The Department of Education approved plans for a new school building as far back as 2012.