Belfast Telegraph

Delight as Strathearn’s new build gets go-ahead

by Fiona Rutherford

The news that Strathearn Grammar has been given the go-ahead to start building its new school has been ecstatically received.

It was among 14 schools approved for a new building after Education Minister Caitriona Ruane was allocated an additional £13 million from other departments’ surpluses.

Strathearn Grammar is to receive £17.399m while Bangor Grammar is to receive the largest slice of the funds at £17.432m.

Strathearn principal David Manning said the project had come to a standstill in February when the Department of Education ran out of money and that he was “absolutely delighted” by the sudden U-turn.

“We weren’t expecting it so quickly — it will make a wonderful difference to us,” he said.

“A number of staff and parents have been contacting me and expressing their delight at the news.”

Strathearn’s new build will be in two stages beginning with 34 classrooms where the assembly hall and lower car park are situated. When complete, the remainder of the classrooms, as well as the administration block, canteen, library, assembly hall, music, drama and ICT suites will be built on the current site.

In addition the technology block will be refurbished and extended and the sports hall will be refurbished and extended to include a gymnasium, fitness suite and additional changing rooms.

However, there was disappointment for Victoria Primary School which was left out of the list of new builds.

East Belfast MP Naomi Long welcomed the green light for Strathearn Grammar but was “deeply concerned” that other schools had been left out of the Minister’s announcement.

Ms Long said: “I welcome the news about funding for the building project at Strathearn Grammar School. This is very positive and I am pleased that they will be able to proceed with this work.

“I am, however, incredibly disappointed that Victoria Park Primary is not on this list.”

UUP councillor Jim Rodgers said: “I have been extremely supportive of Strathearn Grammar and lobbied hard and am delighted the new build is going ahead.

“At the same time I am disappointed that Victoria Park Primary is not on the list, however, with the new financial year ahead, I am quietly confident that it will be successful.”

And Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle added: “We really need to see Strandtown Primary and Victoria Park Primary getting the green light for their school building projects because it’s vital that they get the new facilities they need as a matter of urgency.”

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