The playing pitches at Clonkeen College at Blackrock are in danger of being lost after a private development firm applied for permission to develop a large apartment complex on the land.
The playing pitches were the subject of controversy in 2018 when the Christian Brothers and the Edmund Rice Schools Trust (ERST), began the process of selling the majority of the site to Clonkeen Investments DAC for reportedly €18m.
At the time, the school’s board of management opposed the sale of the pitches as it said it would have a detrimental impact to the student body.
However, the board has since retracted its opposition on the grounds that an all-weather playing pitch be developed as part of the complex.
In its application to An Bord Pleanala (ABP), Clonkeen Investments proposes the construction of 299 apartments across 10 blocks ranging from three to six storeys in height.
The development would also have public and private open space, communal areas, 248 car park spaces, 388 bicycle parking spaces, and a childcare facility.
Despite the school showing its support for the development, local residents are campaigning against it, setting up an online petition calling for ABP to reject the proposal.
At the time of writing the petition has garnered 1,096 signatures and is supported by local politicians.
Barbara Scully, a local resident and organiser of the petition says that the development will have a number of detrimental impacts on Clonkeen College if given the green light by ABP.
She says that “it will prevent the school from ever being able to expand, something that it will no doubt have to, due to increased demand for places resulting from the amount of new development already underway in this area.”
Scully also says that the playing pitches “are an important feeding and resting site for wintering birds, particularly a large flock of Brent Geese (a protected species), hundreds of which have been using the site for a decade.
“The site is also a rich habitat for bats, egrets, curlew, foxes and other wildlife.
“All of which will be destroyed.”
In 2009, Clonkeen College upgraded the pitches with the support of the ERST.
Scully says that €400,000 was fundraised by parents, past pupils and the local community to drain and level the pitches – “Money which will be completely wasted if this sale is allowed to complete,” she says.
Local TD Richard Boyd Barrett says that the local community is “determined to stop the selloff of the sports pitches at Clonkeen College.
“These pitches have been used by decades for the students of the college and others.
“Now, the Christian Brothers want to sell these off to private developers to make enormous profits.
The planning permission is about to be submitted to An Bord Pleanala and I will be supporting these campaigners to keep these pitches for the school and the wider community.”