Carmelites urge city planners to rezone land for housing

Terenure College says land holdings ‘far in excess’ of secondary school’s needs

The religious order that runs Terenure College in south Dublin has urged city planners to rezone some of its property for housing, saying its land holdings at the site are “far in excess” of the secondary school’s needs.

The move by the Irish Province of the Order of Carmelites mirrors steps by the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin to seek zoning that would allow housing to be built on dozens of church sites in the city.

In a public submission to Dublin City Council on its new development plan, the order said a 2.6-hectare site at Fortfield Road was surplus to its requirements for education and could be developed for housing. The site is between Terenure and Templeogue villages.

Any income generated from future development would be used to finance school building and repair, as well as supporting the school’s ethos and the “charitable work and needs” of the Carmelites in Ireland and abroad.


Junior school closure

The push to rezone such lands for housing follows the 2018 closure of the private Terenure College Junior School. The fee-paying Terenure College secondary school at the site has 740 students. The submission said there was no intention to increase the number of students beyond that number, nor was there “any significant need in the locality” for additional places in the school.

The Carmelites said the development of housing would have “no adverse impact on the operations of the school”, adding that it would be left with an area of 19.7 hectares, including a lake and adjoining woodland, which could be offered as a formal public open space if residential development was brought forward.

“The lands north and northwest of the college are no longer required or used for institutional use and there are more than adequate grounds available for sports associated with the college,” stated the submission to the council for the order by planning consultants John Spain Associates.

‘Sustainable development’

The 38-page report backing up the submission states that the council’s proposal to tighten the zoning rules governing sites such as the school lands would have a “severe and damaging effect on the proper planning and sustainable development” of the property,

The archdiocese made similar arguments, in its separate submission, against the proposed zoning change, which precludes housing or office developments in all but “highly exceptional” circumstances.

The order said the application of such restrictions “would result in far more lands being reserved for the school than any other school within the county whether considered on a per-student or per-school basis”.

The submission said it was apparent that the school was “very generously served by the institutional lands” on which they sit. “The current and future needs of the school and the local community can be comfortably met on the remaining lands.”

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times