Ballyhaise College seeks to develop

Ballyhaise Agricultural College is seeking to develop student accommodation to cater for 40 students at the facility.

The college has applied for planning permission to construct a three-storey, student accommodation block comprising 24 en-suite bedrooms, living and kitchen facilities, ground floor communal spaces and ancillary accommodation, together with associated site works and services.

College principal John Kelly said that the work will largely be to help modernise existing accommodation at the college.

“The existing college accommodation was built in the mid-1970s and has reached the end of its useful life. Therefore, until the new proposed building is in place, accommodation will be limited to 24 students, which can be accommodated in the portion of the old accommodation building being retained."

Ballyhaise has over 800 students travelling from all around the northern half of Ireland to attend and John says the accommodation is needed as the college increases its numbers.

“We have a catchment area that includes Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Meath, Louth, Westmeath and Longford. We had 255 students enroll this year so this is needed to help facilitate them,” he said

The principal also added that final costings are not yet completed but it is expected to be substantial due to rising costs and complications surrounding the foundations of the building.

This will be the latest in a series of projects carried out at the college since 2013. Developments so far include a campus-wide biomass heating system; a new dairy cubicle house; and the refurbishment of derelict buildings into classrooms.

A decision on planning is due by December 20.

Cavan-Monaghan TD Heather Humphreys said the project will be a great boost for both the college and the region.

“I am pleased to see that Teagasc has continued to invest in modernising the college facilities in recent years,” she said.

“As we all know, student accommodation is critical to Ballyhaise given the distances that many students must travel from across the region to attend the college.

“I very much welcome the planned investment,” she said.

“Funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, this is a massive boost for Ballyhaise College and the wider farming community in the North- East region.”

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil TD and former Minister for Agriculture, Brendan Smith, emphasised the importance of Ballyhaise College to this region. “Ballyhaise is an elite agricultural college and it’s the only one of its kind in the northern part of the country above the Dublin Galway line. It’s an important part of our education, our farming and agri food sector and I’m delighted to see that additional accommodation will be provided there soon,” he said.