Long-awaited plans for new, modern facilities at Larne’s only integrated primary school could be submitted before the end of the year.
The staff and governors at Corran IPS have for years been pressing for a permanent building to replace the existing premises at Blackcave North.
And last summer, the NI Executive confirmed that a major funding package from the UK Government will finally allow the project to proceed.
The proposed plan for the new complex – to be located on lands at Seacout Road, Britannia Crescent and Blackcave Park – is now at an advanced stage and principal Denise Macfarlane is hopeful the application will be lodged with Mid and East Antrim Council’s planning department in the “coming weeks”.
Mrs Macfarlane believes the provision of a new-build will ensure the delivery of a modern, fit-for-purpose school that will be sustainable long into the future.
And it is hoped that the facility, which is designed to cater for about 230 pupils and over 20 members of staff, will address an ongoing concern voiced by local residents over the years: the issue of traffic congestion at school run times.
The proposal sets out plans for about 50 parking spaces at the new school, and Mrs Macfarlane told the Times: “Transport NI and the planners have recognised the need for additional parking spaces over and above the allocation recommended by the Department of Education.
“We hope this will allay some of the fears expressed by local residents over the issue of traffic management.
“We had a very well-attended public consultation event in the school recently, which gave us the chance to hear local people’s views on the project and then relay that information back to the architect.
“We will continue liaising closely with the community to ensure the process is as smooth as possible.”
If planning permission is granted, it is hoped that construction on the project will commence by April/May 2016.
“We would like to be in the new building for April 2017,” the principal added.
“Corran IPS offers a viable, integrated education for parents seeking a diverse and unbiased learning environment for their children.
“The continued expansion of the integrated sector throughout Northern Ireland reflects the public’s desire for a balanced and shared approach to education,” Mrs Macfarlane concluded.