Construction is to begin this month on the long-awaited Ballinrea Education Campus in Carrigaline which will cater for three schools and around 1,000 students.
The €30 million project - one of the biggest school developments ever undertaken in Cork - has suffered a number of delays but it has now been revealed that a contractor has been appointed and work is expected to commence by the end of May.
The campus will be a new home for Gaelscoil and Gaelcholáiste Charraig Uí Leighin as well as a SONAS Junior Primary School on a campus that will span 21 acres at Ardnacloghy on the Ballinrea Road. The project came about after the Cork Education & Training Board (Cork ETB) was asked by the Department of Education and Skills to take responsibility for the purchase of sites and the provision of schools in the Cork region.
Councillor Seamus McGrath (FF) welcomed the latest development.
“The site has been lying idle there for quite some time and people in the area have been asking what’s happening with it,” he said.
“The news that construction will begin in the next few weeks is a very positive step.
“One of the key issues that is being raised on the ground with me is the need for infrastructure in the surrounding area to support such a large campus,” added Cllr McGrath.
There had been concerns that the 1,000-pupil, three-school education campus would bring increased traffic to the area.
Cllr McGrath said that it is crucial that upgrades at Ballinrea Cross, Ballinrea Road, and Ashgrove roundabout are completed before the campus opens.
“We have close to a two-year window to make sure these upgrades happen and as a council it’s something we have to prioritise,” he added.
While €800,000 in planning contributions have been levied to the council for infrastructure in the area, Cllr McGrath explained the council would have to put up funding as well.
“We have received assurances that will happen,” he revealed.
“In the coming weeks, the council will publish its plans for the infrastructure improvements so we just need to keep the momentum going and make sure we meet the various targets at the right time.
“It needs to be done prior to the schools opening which I would anticipate at this stage could be 2021,” he said.