Almost £100m is to be invested in local schools under the Department of Education’s Major Capital Investment Programme it has been confirmed.
Details of projects currently planned or underway in the borough were contained in correspondence from the DENI Director of Investment and Infrastructure Philip Irwin which was presented to the June meeting of Mid & East Antrim Council.
Mr Irwin pointed out that the Minister for Education, John O’Dowd, had announced several major capital investment projects to proceed to planning in the local area over the last number of years including a new building for Castle Tower Special School with an associated investment of some £21m which is currently under construction and a new building for Braidside Integrated Primary School with anticipated investment of over £5m which, he stated, is at the design stage and is envisaged will be situated on the current Castle Tower site.
It was also pointed out that Mary Queen of Peace PS, Glenravel, is in line to get a new nine class primary school through some £4.5m investment and that, due to issues with the preferred site identified in the business case, the Department was currently seeking alternative sites/land which might be suitable for the new school.
Other school projects released to proceed to planning include Dunclug College, which has a recently approved business case for under £19m, and Cullybackey College for which a business case is currently underway and which will have an estimated investment value of around £16m, councillors were informed.
In addition, the Minister has also approved a further three School Enhancement Programme (SEP) Projects in Mid and East Antrim involving major refurbishment or extension projects at a cost of between £500,000-£4m, Mr Irwin stated.
These include a £4m refurbishment and extension of the Convent building at St Louis Grammar School to provide a Creative and Expressive Arts Facility and a £3.8m scheme at Slemish Integrated College which is currently being designed to provide the school with a Sports Hall, new 3g pitch and associated changing facilities.
Mr Irwin sought “an early meeting” with council about the programme of work in Mid & East Antrim and to discuss “in particular how we can work together to ensure that these projects move forward in a timely manner, bringing this investment into your District Council area as early as possible.”
Cllr Declan o’Loan told the meeting it was “very rare” for Council to get details from a Government Department of “such a large spend”.