Lurgan Forward lambasted over surgery application

TOWN centre management company Lurgan Forward has been lambasted for trying to ‘thwart’ local investment.

DUP MLA Stephen Moutray hit out at the firm after it sent a letter of concern regarding the development of a purpose built doctors surgery in the town centre.

The new development, by Clear Healthcare, aims to cater for both Moore’s Lane and High Street surgeries which currently have no parking facilities.

However Lurgan Forward objected to the proposals because of parking and traffic issues.

However Alderman Moutray said: “I am deeply disappointed that a Town Centre Company working towards the regeneration of Lurgan would in way try to twart any potential development or investment within the town boundaries.

“At a time when town centres are struggling it is vitally important that all work collectively to encourage such developments and initiatives that will ultimately enhance an area of dereliction, and which would significantly increase footfall on High Street, something which would help business and shoppers alike.”

However a spokesperson for Lurgan Forward said it was not objecting to investment in anyway. “There are concerns about the parking issues. Lurgan Forward raised concerns regarding parking and access. We would love to see a state of the art health centre for the town.”

Beset by delays, lobbyists hope the new surgery will be passed by planners after a meeting held last week.

The new practice plans to have 13 consulting rooms for doctors, two practice nurse consulting rooms and eight treatment rooms.

Planners have received five objections, three from the same person who lives in Windsor Avenue and another Windsor Avenue resident as well as the firm Lurgan Forward.

However one letter of support has been received from John R Dowey and his son Simon who is currently President of Lurgan Chamber of Commerce.

Although it is clear the letter of support is in a business capacity and not as President of the Chamber.

There have been parking, traffic and conservation issues linked to the proposed development.

However those championing the new surgery feel it is the perfect location and could help maintain or even boost footfall in Lurgan Town Centre.

In a letter to the Planners Patricia McEvoy, Chairperson of Lurgan Forward, said the Board of the company wanted to raise concerns around parking, that there was a lack of spaces for the proposed development.

The letter also felt that people using the surgery may take up parking spaces in the town which would mean there would be less spaces for shoppers and those living in Windsor Avenue.

In supporting the proposal Mssrs Dowey said: “We believe that the proposed development of these lands add a significant contribution to the economy in our High Street.

“At present, the lands at the rear, which are an eye-sore would be transformed to benefit the local business and landscape.

“Having met with the developers we feel that they are sympathetic to the underdevelopment of areas of Lurgan and we as business owners next to the development believe it would only benefit our business.

“A great deal of time and money has so far been spent and about to be spent on property improvements in Lurgan including the Public Realm Scheme Phase 2 addressing High Street and also the Restore Scheme which is addressing empty properties

“It is important that such a ‘high class’ project as a Doctor’s surgery gets a green light to continue to support other local businesses.”

Speaking to the Mail, Simon Dowey said this proposal is ‘a very positive development for Lurgan’.

“There is no increase in car parking spaces but there is no decreasing either. It is really not that far from where it was.”

Speaking as President of the Chamber of Commerce, Mr Dowey said: “It secures footfall for the traders in the town. “It’s a difficult economic climate and when someone is prepared to invest money in developing the High Street, I think that can only be positive.”

A statement from the NI Planning Service said: “The status of the applications remains deferred following the Council meeting on 19 November. The areas of concern still outstanding relate to the impact upon the Conservation Area, parking and access standards and the impact on residential amenity. A meeting has recently taken place with the applicant highlighting these concerns and further information may be submitted to address these”