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Plans for new Knockanean school

PLANS for a new primary school in Knockanean, developed by the architects behind the state laboratory and other high-profile buildings, have been lodged with Clare County Council.

The proposals put forward by the Office of Public Works for the new two-storey school are awaiting validation by the local authority to enable to planning process to commence.

The development plans consist of a new two-storey primary school building with a gross floor area of approximately 2,535m², accommodation consisting of 16 classrooms, a general purpose room, a library/resource room and ancillary accommodation.

The existing four-classroom block is to be incorporated into the new school plans.

The proposal also includes the re-location of the existing gated vehicular entrance and a new gated vehicular and pedestrian entrance is proposed off the Knockanean Road boundary, serving 24 on-site car-parking spaces and associated set-down areas, pedestrian pathways together with two ball courts, play areas, a bin store, a bicycle shelter, three flagpoles, connection to existing foul drainage treatment system, separate surface water drainage, signage, landscaping and all associated site works on an overall site area of 1.34 hectares.

The new school will cater for approximately 421 school pupils and up to 35 staff members. If given the much-anticipated green light, the existing school’s population will have to be temporarily accommodated off site to facilitate construction.

According to a planning report lodged by the OPW with Clare County Council, the new school design has been “influenced by the location of the existing four-classroom block, the need for on-site car parking and a drop-off area, retaining majority of the existing play field area and providing all the requirements set out in the Department of Education and Skills’ schedule of accommodation”.

The plans show that the proposed school will “anchor” from the existing four-classroom block and work its way up the site, turning in an L shape. The double-height general purpose room is located to the north of the development, with the main architectural features focused around the main public entrance. Visitors will enter a double-height foyer overlooked by the ground-floor administrative offices, first-floor library and circulation spaces.

According to Ciaran O’Connor, state architect, “Following the thorough and extensive design process and site analysis, we are satisfied that the proposed development will contribute to the existing built context, while adhering to the integrity of its planning, educational and architectural goals. The design seeks to give value for money, not just in terms of capital costs but also in terms of lifecycle cost. The school building brief, external requirements and urban context have been extensively studied and we have sought a synthesis between all their aspects and the capital cost restrictions.”

By Jessica Quinn

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