18 May 2022

'Prepare for court'

Group warns council it will launch judicial review after shared green space plans 'ignored'

'Prepare for court'

Some members of the Take Action for Maghera Park group who are opposing the building of an industrial park at the former Maghera High School site.

A County Derry campaign group has told Mid Ulster District Council to prepare for legal action after it moved to pass plans for an industrial park on a former school site.

Take Action for Maghera Park said they are disappointed that the council's Planning Committee declined a request to consult more with the local community on green space hopes for the Maghera High School site.

The local group say it will now look into launching a judicial review against the council's industrial park proposals.

The activists want to see the area - located just off the Tobermore Road - transformed into a shared green space for the entire community.

However, following a meeting held in the council chambers last week, the group said their objections and pleas had been "ignored".

Mid Ulster District Council has since confirmed it has backed plans to meet "identified" business need, and approved the building of the large scale park.

In a statement to the County Derry Post, a Take Action for Maghera Park spokesperson said: “Effectively wiping out the 2,600 objections was counter to the very core principles of local government and can only be viewed, cynically, as an attempt to silence an entire community opposed to their plans.

"It is always disappointing to see one of the new Super Councils ignoring the very people it is tasked to serve, especially in its own self-interest.”

The group added: “What an awful shame it would be on MUDC to force a community, listed as an area of major multiple deprivation, with no other recourse in having a say in their future than through the legal system.”

The group are now awaiting on a response on the council backed plans from the Department for Infrastructure.

On Tuesday the group sent a spokesperson to the planning meeting, where, in accordance with council regulations, they had just three minutes to make their case.

The group were later told the committee had backed the industrial park plans.

A group spokesperson said: “Whilst there is a recommendation sent to the Department of Infrastructure to approve the Council’s applications, no decision has yet been endorsed.

“What an awful shame it would be on MUDC to force a community, listed as an area of major multiple deprivation, with no other recourse in having a say in their future than through the legal system.”

There was some consolation for the campaign group however, as their request for a Tree Protection Order (TPO) for the development site was granted later in the meeting.

Planning Committee members were unanimous in their support of developing an industrial park on the site and the plan now moves to the Department of Infrastructure for review.

In a statement posted on their website, Mid Ulster District Council said: “The Planning Committee agreed last night (4 February) to approve the application, subject to a series of conditions which will protect the area’s natural heritage and address other issues including roads infrastructure, drainage and flooding.

“While a small part of the site earmarked for development is on an area of ‘Major Existing Open Space’, it is not publicly accessible."

The Council said its developing an industrial park on the site to ‘meet an identified demand from local businesses’.
They said: “A land availability appraisal demonstrated full occupancy in existing business units, with only 1 unit available in Glenshane Industrial Park.

“In line with planning legislation, the outcome of the Planning Committee’s determination will be notified to the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) for its consideration.

“The Department has the option to call the application in within 28 days.

"If the Department is not minded to call the application in or impose any other action, the Council can proceed to issue the decision.”

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