A 100-bed community nursing home proposed for the grounds of St Flannan’s College would have a “seriously negative impact” on the student population.

That’s according to staff at the Ennis school who have outlined their objections to the project.

The health services executive (HSE) is seeking planning permission for the development at lands at Clonroadmore, south east of Turnpike Road and north west of St Flannan’s College.

The community nursing home would replace existing short and long stay beds at St Joseph’s nursing home.

Staff at the school say the development would have a significant impact on sport at the school and the “environmental impact would be significant”.

They also highlight the growing student population with the last two academic years being “the two largest ever enrolments in the history of the college”.

In a statement, staff at St Flannan’s College say, “We feel that the proposed development will have a seriously negative impact on the student population of St Flannan’s College for the following reasons: On any evening during the academic year there are many teams training on the pitches.  This can include hurling, Gaelic football, camogie, ladies football, soccer and athletics. With so many students on the fields at any one time all our field space is utilised, including much of the space that is suggested for development under the proposed new facility. Such is the demand for space, a rota is updated regularly for the use of various pitches by the many teams which represent the college”.

The statement continues, “The fields at St. Flannan’s College act as a running track for athletes in the school and in the community all year round.  Several people in the wider community use the grounds as a running track in the evenings.  Also, St. Flannan’s College itself has a rich tradition of athletics and has fostered a love of running in many past and present pupils, many of whom have represented the school in meets all round the country.  Indeed, many of our athletes have and continue to represent their country in their chosen discipline”.

“The environmental impact would be significant. Incredible generational/statement trees that are on the grounds of St. Flannan’s College will be removed altogether.  The response from the HSE in relation to this was “new trees and planting will be added throughout the development to compensate for existing trees”.  We feel no new planting can compensate for the loss of these landmarks in the area.  These, along with the areas surrounding the trees, are incredibly rich in biodiversity.  There will also be a huge influx of extra traffic into an area which is already suffering from traffic congestion.

The statement adds, The student population of St. Flannan’s College is growing. In the academic year 2021/2022 we enrolled 240 new 1st Year students. This was repeated in the academic year 2022/2023.  These were the two largest ever enrolments in the history of the college. The green field site in St. Flannan’s College is the last remaining site of its kind in Ennis. Urban sprawl is taking up much more of our green spaces each year.  Once this land is built upon it will be gone forever.

Staff said they understand the need for a new community hospital in Ennis.

“However, we believe that there are several more appropriate sites available for development”, the statement adds.

Local residents and a former principal of St Flannan’s College, Colm McDonagh, have already objected to the proposed development.

The application is subject to a further information request from Clare County Council who have also expressed concern about the impact of the project.

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