£621,000 spent and not a sod turned

St Patrick's Academy Dungannon.
St Patrick's Academy Dungannon.

AN ILL-FATED project to build a new state-of-the-art school for St Patrick’s Academy has spent more than half a million pounds before a sod has even been turned.

The academy’s ambitious £20 million plus project has been dogged by delays and frustration ever since the Department of Education first announced the plans in 2003.

Latest figures released by the department reveal that £621,000 has been spent to date on planning, architect’s and consultant’s fees, and other costs.

It was also revealed that £91,000 has been spent on the planning of Edendork primary school’s new building.

In 2011, both projects were temporarily mothballed because of severe budget constraints on the education department.

At the time it was believed that the size of the new schools had left them vulnerable to budget cuts.

The department of education first announced that St Patrick’s Academy was to get a new building in spring 2003 but various complications in 2005, outside the school’s control, meant that plans were put on hold for three years.

In 2008, at the beginning of the economic downturn, governors and trustees were informed by the department that progress could, at last, recommence.

However, uncertainty over budgets meant the plans were placed in jeopardy, along with those of another 55 new school buildings in Northern Ireland, including Edendork Primary School.