New estates and planning for schools

 

Sir, – Your article “Rapid growth leaves Swords facing crucial decisions” (January 5ah) highlights some vital planning issues that are facing Ireland in the next few years.

Education providers are well aware of the stress, inefficiencies and escalating cost of developments “where estates are built and essential infrastructure only provided later”.

There is an urgent need for reform of legislation to require the provision of schools as a condition of planning permission for housing estates. The current law allows the building of thousands of houses without the timely provision of schools. Time after time, families have moved into estates to find that there are only empty sites and no schools for their children. In the end, the State has to retrospectively buy land at an exorbitant price and then rapidly build schools in response to a school place crisis. Usually, short-term temporary accommodation has to be found. This is very expensive and often places huge stress on parents, staff and the providers of schools.

There are well-established policies in place in other jurisdictions that place robust conditions on planning permissions for housing estates. These require the developer to design and build the school and hand it over to the State on time for the families moving in. This is effected at no cost to the State and is an efficient, well-planned process.

If Ireland would bring its legislation into line with these international standards, it could both drastically reduce the cost to the taxpayer of school buildings, encourage innovation in school design and also ensure families had schools ready for their children when they move into new estates. – Yours, etc,

PAUL ROWE,

Chief Executive Officer,

Educate Together,

Equity House,

Ormond Quay,

Dublin 7.