herald

Saturday 19 August 2017

Rezoning college land could block Brothers' plans for an €18m sale

Clonkeen College
Clonkeen College

Moves are afoot to block the Christian Brothers from selling an €18m site for housing surrounding a Dublin school.

Councillors will tonight debate a series of motions seeking emergency changes to the zoning around Clonkeen College in Deansgrange.

The religious order is in the process of selling seven acres at the school, including a number of playing pitches.

Contract

It says the money raised will be used to pay compensation for victims of clerical abuse and the Brothers have promised to secure 3.5 acres and €1.3m for the school.

However, the potential sale has been met with outrage from teachers and parents.

Discussions on selling the land began in May 2016 - but the school management was not told until recent weeks when a contract was entered into by the Brothers and developer Patrick Durkan Senior. Clonkeen is the only non-fee-paying post-primary school in an area that has an expanding population. Motions have now been placed before Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council in a last ditch bid to derail the sale.

The land in question is currently zoned as 'residential' but among the measures being proposed is to rezone it as 'open space and recreational'. This would effectively block a developer from building homes. Nineteen schools in the Deansgrange area feed into the college, Fine Gael councillor John Bailey told the Herald.

"This is a disgrace. The local zoning plan will have to be changed, and quickly," he said.

An application for 48 apartments in the area was turned down in 2008 because it would have impacted badly on the character of the area and traffic, he added. He also noted the Department of Education and Skills has spent €10m in recent years upgrading the school.

"If this plan by the Christian Brothers goes ahead, it will leave the school with just over three acres for playing pitches. That's not enough," he said.

"It's in a very tightly-knit area. This school is ready now to expend and cater for further needs of the area."

Opposed

Cllr Bailey wants the council to write to the Minister for Education to see whether it is possible for the State to buy the land with a view to building further educational facilities.

"People are totally opposed to any residential development on this site," he said.

It is understood the school presented its own plans for the development of an all-weather facility on the playing fields to Edmund Rice Schools Trust just weeks after the charity was approached by developer Patrick Durkan Snr.

The charity is legally responsible for the congregation's property.

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