Luxury homeowners in a gated Dublin community are taking legal action over plans to build new schools in what is one of the city’s fastest-growing suburbs.
The Department of Education received planning permission last year to build a 1,000-pupil secondary school and a 400-pupil primary school in Saggart, Co Dublin.
The site on Fortunestown Lane borders a development of more than 40 detached homes built during the mid-2000s which overlook the now disused Citywest executive golf course. The homes in Saggart Lakes and Coldwater Lake sold at the time with price tags of between €1 million and €1.6 million.
Planning records indicate that the land on which the two schools are due to be built is owned by Dublin and Dún Laoghaire Education and Training Board (DDLETB). However, the homeowners claim some of the land earmarked for the schools lies within the common areas held by their management company, Burnella Cottage Ltd.
Planning records show Burnella claims that DDLETB has “no legal right to apply for planning in these areas”. It has initiated proceedings in the Circuit Court to transfer some of the land to the management company.
The claims are rejected by DDLETB which, in a statement, said “there is valid planning permission in place with regards to the proposed school campus in Saggart, Co Dublin”.
The Department of Education said the schools project is at tender preparation stage and anticipates it will be tendered for later this year.
“As court proceedings have been initiated the department has no further comment to make at this time,” it added.
Burnella did not respond to a request for comment made via their legal representatives.
Parents and teachers are worried that legal action risks delaying the provision of badly needed schools.
The school buildings are due to be occupied by a new primary school, Gaelscoil Lir, and a secondary school, Coláiste Pobail Fóla. They will operate out of temporary premises until the campus is built.
Sinéad Bheilbigh, principal of Gaelscoil Lir, said there is an urgent need for new schools in the area.
“I can understand residents in the locality having concerns in relation to traffic etc. However, our new school represents a great new choice for the area and will be available for community use. We are confident there will be no issue and we look forward to inviting the community into our school,” she said.
Eddie Harman, a parent and campaigner for school places, said the demand for school places was "huge".
“All the schools are oversubscribed. There are new apartment blocks being developed all the time and more families moving in. This is essential infrastructure for the area,” he said.
The owners of the nearby Citywest Hotel had previously objected and appealed against plans for the schools. It said this was done partly for traffic reasons and to ensure there was access to a public park it is planning in the area.
Michael McEliggott, chief executive of Tetrarch Capital – which owns the Citywest Hotel – said the issues have been resolved and the appeal withdrawn.
“We are fully supportive of the two new schools in Citywest, which will deliver vital primary and secondary-school facilities for what is the fastest growing suburb of Dublin,” he said. “We will provide whatever support is necessary to stymie the efforts of the very small group of individuals seeking to prevent the delivery of these new schools for Citywest.”