independent

Monday 21 May 2018

Welcome boost for Newtown but 'bigger would be better'

Myles Buchanan

Newtownmountkennedy is to get a second primary school to cope with its ever-expanding population.

According to the last Census, Newtownmountkennedy is the fastest growing town in the county, experiencing a 17.6 per cent growth in population between 2011 and 2016. Population figures are due to again grow dramatically over the coming years with planning for close to 1,000 houses in the immediate area.

The new eight-classroom school was announced on Friday and will be in addition to the existing Newtownmountkennedy Primary School.

While Cllr Daire Nolan is delighted progress is taking place, he still believes that Newtown could do with a larger-scale primary school.

'Any movement regarding new schools has to be welcomed and the sooner it is established the better,' said Cllr Nolan.

'We have nearly 1,000 new houses planned for the area. Even if you only have one child for every three homes, you are still talking about hundreds of pupils. I don't know if you can ever have a school big enough but at least it is progress. Personally I don't know if eight classrooms will be big enough. I think Newtown could do with a minimum of 12 or 16 new classrooms. I'd like to think it will be constantly reviewed. Hopefully, when the new school is built, there will be enough room to allow for some future expansion.'

Cllr Shay Cullen is a member of the Newtown Forum, which plans to make representations to the Department about locations for the second school.

'When the new school is built, it will be full to capacity on its opening day. Therefore, it is critical that the build starts as quickly as possible.'

Cllr John Snell has been engaging with planners from Wicklow County Council over the inclusion of further lands zoned educational in the Newtownmountkennedy Local Area Plan 2018 to 2024.

'The current plan doesn't have enough sites zoned for education and the council planners said they would look at it. In the current plan, lands beside the existing school have been zoned to accommodate a second school further down the line but I think it would be bad planning to put another national school beside the current location,' said Cllr Snell.

'There are lands at Rossmore which could be rezoned to accommodate another school. Placing two schools beside one another in the same area will just cause mass congestion.

'Newtownmountkennedy's population is growing at such a pace that it actually justifies having its own secondary school as well,' said Cllr Snell.

Meanwhile, Newtown's primary school-going population could be looking forward to two modern facilities in the area, after the existing primary school was granted permission from Wicklow County Council last month to demolish part of its existing building and construct a single and two storey building, with 34 car parking spaces, 20 bicycle spaces, a new entrance/exit and play areas.

However, this decision has been appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

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