‘Funding for college new build reopens debate over site’

The announcement of new build funding for Abbey Community College, which will be formed by the merger of Monkstown Community School and Newtownabbey Community High in September 2015, reopens the debate over where the new post-primary school should be sited.

That’s the view of North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds, who campaigned for the new school to be located at the Newtownabbey Community High site in Rathcoole.

Nigel Dodds MP.

Nigel Dodds MP.

While recognising that the NEELB has already taken a decision that the college should be based in Monkstown, the DUP man says he plans to explore with the Department of Education the feasibility of pupils attending the Bridge Road site while a new build takes place in Rathcoole.

“The announcement by the Education Minister about new build capital does provide an opportunity to explore once again the best site for this. We will explore the possibilities, we will talk to the Minister and see what comes of that,” he told the Times.

A spokesperson for the department said that while the location of the college is a matter for the NEELB, an economic appraisal for the new build will have to be carried out in order to “confirm the best value site option.”

“A site search exercise will be carried out as part of the technical feasibility study for the project. This will examine all available site options for the new build for the combined school. This will include consideration of the utilisation of one or other of the existing sites,” she explained.

• See video interview at newtownabbeytimes.co.uk