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Green light given to demolish and replace Co Armagh primary school

St Peter's School Collegeland

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s planning committee has approved an application to demolish and replace a primary school in Collegelands.

Lodged by Hamilton Architects on behalf of St Peter’s Primary School, the application seeks permission to demolish and replace the school, located at 90 Collegelands Road on the outskirts of Moy, with a new five classroom primary school with associated vehicle access, car parking and grass play areas.

The application was approved at a meeting of Council’s planning committee on Wednesday, January 11 with a proposal to approve the application put forward by Councillor Sam Nicholson and seconded by Councillor Declan McAlinden.

According to the application form, water will be supplied to the 1.1565 hectare site via the mains, with surface water disposed of by the attenuation storage tank and discharged to a local watercourse.

The new school will have a total floorspace of 1,208m2 but the building is not expected to increase the total number of visitors or vehicles attending the site on a daily basis.

A design and access statement submitted as part of the application explains the new school will be located on the eastern portion of the existing site at 90 Collegeland Road.

It notes there is currently an issue with traffic build up during times of drop off and collection but claims the redesign of the site will facilitate “access to an extensive drop off area within the site boundary and an increase in onsite parking”.

A removal of a lay-by to the front of the site should, it is claimed, also help to mitigate any traffic build up on the Collegeland Road drop off and collection period.

The proposed design of the new building aims to “capture the connection between the people and the land and reflect its identity through the use of materials typically found within the rural landscape”.

The materials used in the new build have been described as “austere but durable” and are aimed not only at reducing costs but at giving the building a longer life.

According to the design and access statement, the new building will feature five classrooms, a multi-purpose hall for shared dining and sports activities, multi-purpose teaching rooms, staff rooms, resource areas and changing and WC’s throughout.

“The school’s classrooms are in clusters accessed from a central circulation area which houses two resource areas”, reads the statement.

“The school’s main hall and administration rooms are also accessed from the main circulation area. The school has been designed in order to facilitate out of hours community activities with each classroom wing being able to be closed and locked off from the multi-purpose hall and associated auxiliary spaces.

In conclusion, the design and access statement notes the proposal is “sympathetic to the existing topography and existing road infrastructure” and claims the “school’s design has been developed with a high degree of inclusivity in mind [to] allow for access to the school by all”.

Discussing the application at Council’s planning committee meeting in January, Councillor Sam Nicholson asked if the new boundary that is being formed between the school and the field will have a condition imposed to create a rural boundary edge.

A planning officer advised that in that specific section of the site a few retaining structures are required including a palisade fence. He also noted that while planting has been proposed, planners have sought to add a condition to the application’s approval ensuring a hedge will be planted along that boundary “to soften it for the rural landscape”.

St Peter's Primary School Collegelands

St Peter’s Primary School, Collegelands

With that assurance received, Cllr Nicholson said planning officers had put together a “very good” report on the application and said he was confident the application, should it be approved, would be a “massive addition to the education infrastructure in that locality”.

He then proposed the application was accepted in line with planning officer’s recommendation.

Councillor Declan McAlinden thanked officers for the report and noted, as a rural councillor, the “pivotal role” his local primary school plays in the community.

He told the chamber he had no doubt this new development would play a similar role in the “Collegelands and Moy community”.

“If Cllr Nicholson is proposing the application is approved I am happy to second the proposal,” he said before the committee voiced its support for the proposal to approve the application.

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