Residents near St Mary’s College have voiced their concern over plans to build a two-storey school building catering for 900 pupils.
Over 80 residents from St Mary’s Road, Fairgreen Row, and Happy Valley attended a community meeting last week to discuss the school’s planning application to Dundalk Town Council.
The school’s ambitious plan includes 40 classrooms, a PE hall, a general purpose hall, canteen and staff offices.
Some local residents fear that the proposed school will become a white elephant as the current building cannot be demolished as it is a listed building.
Mr Tom Callanan, a resident of St Mary’s Road, told The Dundalk Democrat that residents have several issues regarding the proposed development.
“This area is prone to flooding,” Mr Callanan claimed. “The site which this building is planned currently soaks heavy rainfall. As a flood prevention measure, the application includes the site to be raised by 1.5 metre.
“If this development goes ahead there will be nowhere for the rain to be absorbed.”
Residents also fear that a protected view of the Cooley Mountains will be impaired and the development will cause traffic chaos.
“There are already traffic issues in the area during the morning times and when the school finishes. It is bumper-to-bumper during these peak times,” Mr Callanan said.
“Construction works would have a significant impact on traffic management and it would turn into chaos.”
The residents also question the need for another large school in Dundalk, as a 1,000 place post-primary school, Pobalcholáiste Chú Chulainn, has been granted planning permission at a 10 acre site at the Marshes.
“This school would become a white elephant,” Mr Callanan said. “It is not needed. I understand that the current school building needs to be updated, but I believe there is no demand for a school of this size.
“The school planned for the Marshes will be sufficient to cater for the town’s educational needs. If the Marist is given the go-ahead for their project, it would severely affect the other schools in Dundalk.”
John McGahon, chairman of Young Fine Gael and a resident of the area, also voiced his objection to the plan.
“I believe St Mary’s Road to be one of Dundalk’s finest streets,” Mr McGahon said. “Having grown up in Seatown I have a very real concern that the plans as they stand could lead to the ruination of the street much like what happened Staplenton Place and Jocelyn street.
“Residents are quite rightly concerned about the impact these plans could have on flooding conditions, traffic congestion, and removal of trees that are over a century old.
“As a local resident and someone who has family members and friends on St Mary’s Road, I fully support and understand the objections of local residents.”
Green Party councillor Mark Dearey said that residents raised very serious concerns at the meeting.
“We must assist and help them to engage in the planning process.
“The residents identified that there is a key provision for green and recreation space in the development plan.”
The deadline for submissions is 19 November. A decision is due on Tuesday 10 December.