Councillors who were at the frontline of the long drawn out battle for an all new Castle Tower special school have been delighted to hear that plans are on schedule.
Updating members at their monthly meeting, Chief Executive Anne Donaghy said sketches had been completed and were currently on display in the school’s Frys Road premises.
These, she added, will be sent to the Education Minister and, if approved, will progress to the Planning Service.
It is understood the proposed new build will be the biggest capital project ever undertaken by the North Eastern Education & Library Board (NEELB) and will be the biggest special school in the UK.
According to an Economic Appraisal of the plans, the school is likely to be completed by December 2016 with staff and pupils moving into the school by January, 2017.
Castle Tower was established in September, 2007, following the amalgamation of the three special schools in Ballymena - Dunfane, Beechgrove, and Loughan. The new building at Trostan Avenue will bring all three under one roof. Funding for the much needed new school was finally announced last June by Education Minister, John O’Dowd.
Until new accommodation is built, Dunfane and Beechgrove will continue to share a site at Frys Road. Dunfane Campus caters for children with moderate learning difficulties in Key Stages 1 - 4 while Beechgrove caters for children with physical difficulties from pre-school to year 7. Loughan Campus, situated at Old Ballymoney Road, caters for children with severe learning difficulties at both primary and post-primary level.