PLEAS to save the former St Comgall’s College buildings appear to have fallen on deaf ears, with the arrival of a demolition team at the site this week.
With the Bankhead Lane site now lying vacant, a number of local people had called for the premises to be put to better use, with some suggesting that it could be a suitable site for the relocation of Corran Integrated Primary – which is currently operating out of mobile classrooms at Blackcave North.
As previously reported in the Times, the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) received permission from the Department of Education to demolish the former St Comgall’s site, but had decided to put this on hold pending further exploration of the matter.
It now seems that all hope of preserving the 50-year-old school premises has evaporated, as contractors McCormack Demolition are now on site.
East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs, who has campaigned for the buildings to be utilised by another party, spoke of his “disappointment” that the demolition would be going ahead.
“I tried to encourage discussions to see if the buildings could be reused for educational purposes and lobbied the Department of Education with that proposal,” he said.
“However, after some exchange of correspondence between CCMS and Corran Integrated Primary School, the process has petered out with no agreement being reached. The Department of Education are supposed to be reviewing educational assets at present as part of their Area Planning initiative, but they seemed very unwilling to get proactively involved in the St Comgalls’ issue. This is perplexing at a time when capital funds to build new schools are extremely limited.
“Sadly, what we are seeing is another loss of a public asset in Larne. No doubt when the market picks up, the site will be sold off, a developer will move in and house will be built. It seems to me that the wider community will derive little if any benefit from the sale of an asset they helped to pay for and support for 50 years.”
But the Times understands that, in order for Corran Primary to be transferred to Bankhead Lane, an investment of about £1 million would have been required just to make the buildings usable.
We also understand that Corran Primary’s board of governors has decided that a move to St Comgall’s would not be feasible, and is instead seeking to have a new school built on the Blackcave site.