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Ards and Down Area Plan 2015
Policy Framework: Education Facilities

The Independent Review Body on Post Primary Education reported to the Minister for Education in 2001, and there is the possibility that the long term outcome of this review may influence the number and type of post primary schools across Northern Ireland.
The Department of Education commented that educational demand in the secondary school sector in both Ards and Down over the Plan period can be met by a combination of existing surplus places in the system plus the accelerating decline in the secondary school population.

Ards Borough

SEELB capital development projects are found in its Strategic Capital Development Plan 2004- 2009. The building of a replacement school for Castle Gardens Primary School, Newtownards was completed in 2001 on the Bowtown Road. The extension and refurbishment work to Regent House Grammar School in Newtownards has been completed. Scrabo High School in Newtownards closed in 1997.
The SEELB anticipates that a new primary school, with a nursery unit and an enlarged secondary school will be required in Newtownards in view of the additional housing to be provided over the Plan period. A suitable site for the secondary school has yet to be agreed. Land will be reserved for a primary school as part of a future housing scheme on lands zoned to the north east of the town as part of the Plan. An economic appraisal is being undertaken by the SEELB to consider the extension of Victoria Primary School in Ballyhalbert. SEELB stated that land may be required for an extension to Killinchy Primary School but no specific site was identified.
There is one college of further education in Ards District - North Down and Ards Institute of Further and Higher Education with two campuses, Bangor and Newtownards, and two outreach centres, Holywood and Ballyboley.

Down District

SEELB has recommended the need for a new site for Down High School and discussions are underway in connection with the submission of a planning application. A permanent building for All Childrens’ Controlled Integrated Primary School has replaced the temporary accommodation at King Street in Newcastle. Clough and Downshire Primary Schools have been amalgamated into a replacement school on the site of Clough Primary and is known as Cumran Primary School.
Down Academy Controlled Integrated High School combined with Rowallane Integrated College in September 2008 and is known as Blackwater Integrated College. SEELB has advised that the current site is over developed and they would wish to provide a replacement school on a new site. A suitable site has yet to be agreed. The Board advised that additional land should be zoned for educational use adjacent to Academy Primary School in Saintfield to facilitate the future expansion of the school. This is now included as an Educational Policy Area in the Plan.
Work has been undertaken for the extension and refurbishment of Saintfield High School within the existing site.
There is one college of further education in Down District, East Down Institute of Further and Higher Education, with the main campuses at Downpatrick, Newcastle and Ballynahinch  and an adult education centre in Downpatrick. Permission was granted for a replacement East Down Institute on the existing site in Market Street, Downpatrick in 2007 and work is underway.
The establishment of a free-standing grantaided Irish medium primary school at Circular Road, Castlewellan is proposed by the Board of Governors of Bunscoil Bheanna Boirche and Comhairle na Gaelscolaiochta.

Libraries and Youth Services

The SEELB is also responsible for library provision within the Plan area. There are 4 branch libraries in the Ards Borough and 6 in Down District. The Board is currently investigating the possibility of a second library in Newtownards.
Youth clubs operate throughout the Plan area from various premises owned by Councils, churches and schools. Various other organisations operate widely throughout the Plan area such as Boys Brigade, Girls Brigade, Girl Guides, Scouts etc. The YMCA operates a facility in Donard Street and an outdoor pursuits centre from the Green Hill Centre in Newcastle.
There are youth resource centres located in Newtownards, Downpatrick and Ballynahinch and 2 Outdoor Education Centres based at Castlewellan (Annsborough), and Killyleagh.

Health and Social Services

The South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust (SEHSCT) has stated that additional health and social care services will be required in Donaghadee, Comber and Newtownards and requested that provision be made for such health facilities in these areas. A purpose built Intensive Support Unit for children on the Ards Hospital Site in Newtownards was completed in 2008.
The SEHSCT opened a Healthy Living Centre at Kircubbin in 2002.
The SEHSCT has also indicated that that there is some unused capacity in the health centres at Portavogie and Portaferry.
The Report of the Acute Hospitals Review Group recommended that an enhanced local hospital services should be provided from the Downe Hospital. The SEHSCT has made provision for a new community based facility in Newcastle.
Policy COY 1 Community Uses
Planning permission will be granted for community uses provided all the following criteria are met:
  • there is no significant detrimental effect on amenity;
  • the proposal does not prejudice the comprehensive development of surrounding lands, particularly on zoned sites;
  • the proposals are in keeping with the size and character of the settlement and its surroundings;
  • where necessary, additional infrastructure is provided by the developer; and,
  • there are satisfactory access, parking and sewage disposal arrangements.
Applications for planning permission for community related facilities will be considered in the context of prevailing regional planning policy and all other proposals contained within the Plan.
Current policy is contained within A Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland and Draft Planning Policy Statement 21 (PPS 21): Sustainable Development in the Countryside. Unforeseen demands for new community facilities may arise over the lifetime of the Plan. Accordingly, a flexible approach is required in considering such development within settlement limits in order to make the most effective use of existing facilities, infrastructure, utilities and resources. For the purposes of interpreting this policy, Community Use refers to those uses specified in Use Classes 13 and 15 of the Planning (Use Classes) Order (Northern Ireland) 2004.
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