Emergency motions calling for measures to protect school lands across south Dublin from housing development, will come before Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown councillors on Monday night.
The motions, calling on the council to rezone school lands currently zoned as “residential” to “open space and recreational”, come as the religious owners of two schools in the area sell lands for housing development.
In Deansgrange, the Christian Brothers are nearing the completion of the sale of 3 hectares (7.5 acres) of playing fields to the rear of Clonkeen College for a reported €18 million.
The school board was told about the sale on May 3rd, after contracts had been entered into between the Brothers and developer Durkan Homes and 12 months after negotiations on the sale began.
Shock and anger
The news was greeted with shock and anger by parents and the board of management who are now calling on the Department of Education to take ownership of the school and for the patron, the Edmund Rice Schools Trust, to step aside.
In Goatstown, the Religious of Jesus and Mary last week sold 2.2 hectares (5.4 acres) adjoining Our Lady's Grove primary and secondary schools, for a reported €13 million – also to Durkan Homes. The Sisters announced the sale the day after more than 120 parents and residents attended a meeting objecting to the sale.
Clonkeen College and Our Lady’s Grove are among the few non-fee-paying post-primary schools in an area of rapid population growth. Of the 105 primary and post-primary schools in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown county council area, 93 are in zoned residential land.
Given that land in the area is among the most sought-after for housing in the State, concern is increasing that school patrons will be tempted to sell tracts of school land for housing.
Councillors Karen Furlong (Green Party), Shay Brennan (Fianna Fáil) and Sorcha Nic Cormaic (Sinn Féin) will call for a suspension of standing orders to move a motion calling for a reopening of the county development to rezone school lands from "objective A" (residential) to "objective F" (open space and recreational). John Bailey (Fine Gael) is moving a similar motion.
A spokesman for the council said: “The development plan should not be read having regard solely to a single objective – it has to be considered having regard to a suite of policies and objectives . The council’s plan includes a number of policies and objectives regarding both new and existing schools.”