herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Planners ignore protests to give Mansfield's €250m Saudi school the go-ahead

JIM Mansfield's language school project in Citywest has been given the thumbs up by South County Dublin planners.

Permission was granted for the massive development despite objections from the National Roads Authority (NRA) and An Taisce.

The Citywest Institute of Education Ltd revealed plans last month for a two-year contract with the Saudi government to provide a school for students over the age of 18.

Publicity for the school claimed the contract was worth €250m and would accommodate up to 750 students.

However, the Department of Education and Skills clarified that it did not broker any agreement with the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as had been originally suggested.

And Saudi authorities denied that the group was granted a contract to run the courses in Ireland for students from the Middle Eastern state.

Almost two years ago, Mansfield succeeded in rezoning the same facility from a green belt into retail use, but the organisation said that this new project could generate up to 200 jobs.

The group, under the name of HSS Ltd, said that up to 60 construction jobs and a further 70 to 80 teaching positions, as well as employment in administration, will stem from the development.



Downturn

South Dublin County Council voted to rezone the area as local centre' facilities, permitting a wide range of retail uses almost two years ago. Then, following the downturn, the organisation applied for a "change of use" for the Golf Shopping Village.

But there were a number of objections from the National Roads Authority and An Taisce.

"It appears that the proposed development, which involves a significant change in use from retail to education with a consequent change in the trip patterns, might generate a significant increase in the volume of traffic using a national road," a representative for the NRA said in a letter.

A representative for An Taisce said that the application was in breach of the terms on which the applicants sought and obtained zoning for the golf village and retail on the site.

Councillor Derek Keating said that he couldn't understand why it got the go-ahead.

"I'm quite surprised that it was granted, particularly given the fact that the NRA objected," he said. "I would have concerns about the development on the grounds of traffic."

"Obviously an initiative that generates employment has to be commended but there are other considerations in the planning context that have to be taken into account," he added.

clairemurphy@herald.ie

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