Northern Ireland news

Mid Ulster District Council under fire over business park plans

Maghera Action Group members Ryan O'Reilly, Katy McGlade, Vanda Shields and Jennifer Young, who are leading a campaign to have the former Maghera High School site turned into a public park.Picture by Cliff Donaldson
Connla Young

COUNCIL plans to turn the site of a former school in Co Derry into a business park have received more than 1,200 objections.

Mid Ulster District Council wants to build a retail park on the site of the former Maghera High School on the Tobermore Road.

However, some people have been involved in a campaign to have the 20-acre vacant site transformed into a public park.

It has now emerged that 1,266 people have lodged objections to the plan, while no letters of support have been received.

There are two applications lodged with planners relating to the construction of business units, access and footpath layout.

Some residents in Maghera, Co Derry, want a former school site turned into a public park. Picture by Cliff Donaldson

The council wants to construct eight industrial units on the site ranging in size from 4,000 to 20,000 sq ft.

Campaigners say that more than 200 people held a protest at the site last weekend.

Ryan O'Reilly from the Maghera Park Action Group said "it is clear that the people of Maghera wholeheartedly reject council's proposal to industrialise our open space".

"This area represents the last opportunity to develop a public park accessible by all sections of our community, delivering a critical shared space and a transformative effect on physical and mental health," he said.

It has also emerged that the council has failed to respond to requests from concerned members of the public to issue tree preservation orders to protect more 32 mature trees on the site.

A bat survey reveals it is home to 13 oak trees along with a mixture of sycamore, beech, horse chestnut and other trees.

All were found to have moderate or high bat roosting potential.

The council has admitted that some will have to be removed for the development.

A council spokeswoman said that "given this is a live planning application still under consideration, it would be inappropriate for us to comment on specific consultation responses".

She also said requests for tree preservation orders "are currently under consideration".

Some residents in Maghera, Co Derry, want a former school site turned into a public park. Picture by Cliff Donaldson

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