Lurgan’s Castle Lane is to be given a £100k spruce up including a new ‘pocket park’.
However, local councillors have raised concerns that the landowner of some of the property in Castle Lane had ‘consistently failed’ to meeting representatives to discuss ‘serious anti-social behaviour’ on the property.
An official at Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council explained that Public Realm Works will address the upper section of the street, but the rest is in ‘greater distress’.
However, with the transfer of the car park, the council is now a significant land owner.
Plans include a decorative timber fence along the privately owned site west of Castle Lane, with soft landscaping and heritage/interpretive images fixed to this boundary.
Also planned is a ‘pocket park’/community garden on the privately owned land. This area would be leased (with a peppercorn rent) from the landowner as a facility for the local community, and would have a hinged boundary fence/gates to enable the garden to be open whenever possible, but quickly secured when necessary.
Council were told the landowner has been receptive to the proposals which are to his benefit in that they would secure his land while also helping to promote its development potential,
However, while Sinn Fein Cllr Keith Haughian supported plans for the project he expressed concern regarding the private landowner who ‘was going to benefit significantly from the work being undertaken in this area’.
He said that this individual also owned other land in the area which was the subject of serious antisocial behaviour, but he consistently failed to meet with local community representatives, etc. in an attempt to deal with the situation.
Councillor Haughian said he was happy to support the project but on the condition that officers go back to the landowner and ask him to take the necessary action in order to deal with the issue of antisocial behaviour on other land in the area in his ownership.
SDLP Cllr Joe Nelson agreed adding that this individual had made promises in the past in relation to the sites owned by him, but had failed to follow through. Cllr Nelson referred to up to 200 young people on occasion making a nuisance of themselves. While he was happy to support the project he said there was a need to resolve the antisocial behaviour issues.
On the recommendation of DUP Cllr Phil Moutray, seconded by Cllr Haughian, the project was agreed and officers are to speak to the landowner requesting he take necessary work on other derelict land under his ownership and anti-social behaviour.