Pressure to halt SRC new build

Craigavon City Park. INLM4712-134gc
Craigavon City Park. INLM4712-134gc

A group opposed to the building of a new Southern Regional College at Craigavon Lakes has called on the local council to withdraw from the sale agreement.

‘Save Craigavon City Park and Lakes’ secretary Kelly Laverty says 3000 local residents and Craigavon City Park users have signed up to oppose the planned build.

The group has emailed Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Chief Executive Roger Wilson and all 41 councillors to ask them to withdraw from the option to sell agreement with Southern Regional College.

They have also submitted a detailed letter to the Department of Infrascructure to “Call In” the application ‘to avoid a conflict of interest and preserve neutrality’.

The letter to the Chief Executive states: “As current caretakers of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon area, your obligation to us as residents should take precedence over any formal agreement previously made between the Legacy Council and Southern Regional College.

“We are the key stakeholders in this decision and as such our rights take priority. You have a duty to your constituents and are responsible to the electorate yet your views on the project to date have not been representative of the views of the people. To this end, we have written to the Department of Infrastructure to request that, in the event that it should reach the planning stage, this project be “called in” to preserve the neutrality of the decision. Additionally, we believe that there is a major conflict of interest as Council stands to benefit to the sum of £675,000 if planning permission is granted.

“We have researched this project extensively and it is of grave concern that no-where in the documentation has anyone referred to the fact that this project is being built within the boundaries of Craigavon City Park. A project, which began as six acres has now increased to 12 with further expansion possible. It does not comply with the key requirements of Plan Policy Statement TOU1 in the Craigavon Area Plan 2010 (adopted) and it will have a major detrimental impact on the amenity of the park.

“We reiterate that we welcome Southern Regional College to Craigavon. Indeed, a campus such as this is of great benefit to Craigavon. We ask only that you consider the numerous suitable alternative sites in Craigavon where SRC could build their campus. These sites have additional benefits in terms of regeneration, tackling deprivation and community partnerships than the current proposal. Council has an obligation to consider this project in terms of the overall benefits it can bring to Craigavon and not just to the retail sector, namely, Rushmere and the new leisure centre project. In this instance we believe Craigavon can have a fabulous park and a fabulous College, but we do not have to destroy one to achieve the other.

Ms Laverty said she has invited each political party on the council to meet with the group to discuss the situation.