New school at the Dunluce Centre site?

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Councillors have backed a motion calling on Council to ‘fully investigate’ the possibility of Millstrand Integrated Primary School building a new school on the site of the Dunluce Centre in Portrush.

As we revealed last week, the vacant centre is costing ratepayers of the Borough over £42,000 per year. There have been a number of parties interested in the site, since it first closed back in 2013.

At last Tuesday night’s meeting, DUP councillor George Duddy brought forward the motion and it was carried by eleven votes to five. The motion will now go to the full meeting of Council tonight (Tuesday), to be ratified.

Speaking on the motion, the former Coleraine Mayor pointed out that the Department of Education had highlighted the need for a new build for the school some 12 years ago. He said that since the Dunluce Centre had closed, the school, which he described as being ‘an integral part of Portrush’, had a ‘constant’ interest in the site.

He referred to the Portrush Regeneration Strategy, which was published back in 2007, he asked if it was ‘fair’ to impose the findings of the report on a new Council. According the Area Plan the site is zoned for for tourism or leisure facilities, but as cllr Duddy pointed out, this is only a draft.

“It’s time to reconsider, let’s have proper consultation with Portrush residents,” he said. “The school’s vision is for a community facility that will be in operation all year round. It would be thoughtless not to engage with the school,” he said.

UUP councillor William McCandless told the meeting that councillors had met with parents from the school last week and that ‘genuine concerns’ had been raised. “All avenues need explored,” he said. “We’ve started a process, we need to continue,” he said.

SDLP councillor Stephanie Quigley, who seconded the motion, highlighted the views of the Education Board: “I am happy to support this.”

Concluding the debate, cllr Duddy read a quote from a ten year old child, ‘I hope you can do something, but if not it’s OK. I know we are just kids but we live in this world, too, and if we don’t say, who will?”