Offaly County Councillors decided to a man at a meeting on Monday to rezone land on the Western side of Edenderry to pave the way for permanent accommodation for two Edenderry schools currently in temporary accommodation. The decision to rezone the potential school site is a controversial one, with local opinion not in full agreement the proposed site is the right one for schools. However it now clears the way for the Department of Education to seek planning permission for the schools project.
Submissions relating to the rezoning raised concerns about traffic congestion and access. The Commission on School Accommodation in 2005 identified the Dublin end of Edenderry as the ideal area for new school accommodation. Land the Department of Education earmarked earlier this year however is at the opposite end of the town.
Edenderry Town Councillor Noel Cribbin also raised concerns that using the proposed site for school accommodation would leave Offaly County Council with no landbank to house the people in Edenderry on its housing list.
Similar concerns were raised at Monday's County Council meeting. Though Edenderry councillors Noel Bourke, Nicola Hogan and John Foley all supported the proposal to rezone the land in question, they expressed surprise land at the Tullamore end of Edenderry was chosen. However the drive for permanent accommodation for Scoil Bride and the Gaelscoil in Edenderry drove the decision in the end, with Cllr Hogan saying she had "no option but to support it". Cllr Bourke said that though on one hand there were concerns about the selected site, on the other hand two schools need accommodation at the earliest possible date. "I'm not going to hold them up any longer than they need to," he said.
Following the decision Cllr Cribbin said he was disappointed, but added that "all is not lost yet". He said there is more than one site available for the project, including a ten acre site that was offered last February by a local developer. "I'll still be progressing this offer," Cllr Cribbin said on Tuesday morning. He said he has been in contact with the Department of Education on the issue, and hopes to show Department of Education personnel it and other sites in the coming weeks.