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Shared campus at former barracks moves step closer

By Lindsay Fergus

It has been home to the UDR and RIR. Now a vision to transform a former barracks into Northern Ireland’s first shared education campus is a step closer to reality.

Plans to home up to six schools on the 140-acre Lisanelly site in Omagh were submitted yesterday.

It is hoped that outline planning will be approved by the end of 2012 with the first schools opening in 2015 — subject to further planing and funding.

Although long-term funding and tenants have not been confirmed, Education Minister John O’Dowd has said he remains committed to the scheme.

An outline business case — needed to secure funding for procurement and development — needs the approval of both the departments of Education and Finance and Personnel.

Mr O’Dowd said: “The Lisanelly Campus represents an excellent example of schools and communities working together. The development will enable schools to retain their individual status while collaborating to provide the children and young people in the area with the best facilities and curriculum choice.

“I and my department are dedicated to ensuring progress is continued towards the first shared campus here in the north.”

Unveiling the masterplan at the South West College yesterday Mr |O’Dowd added: “The project will not only provide a short-term boost to the local economy, it will also provide long-term economic benefits as the area’s young people will enjoy the best educational opportunities on offer.

“Today is therefore a significant milestone on the way to a shared educational campus for the town.”

The first phase will likely include Sacred Heart College, Omagh High School and Arvalee Special School.

Lisanelly scheme programme director Hazel Jones welcomed the milestone in the project.

The Lisanelly Master Plan will be open to the public from Monday until January 13 at Omagh Community House, Drumragh Avenue.

Background

The Hillsborough Agreement provided for the gifting of the former military barracks site at Lisanelly to the Northern Ireland Executive for an educational campus. The site comprises 118 acres on the east side of the Strule River and 21 acres on the west side. For more information visit www.omaghlisanellycam pus.org.

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