Public meeting over park row

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Campaigners opposed to Mid Ulster Council’s plans for a business park in Maghera, are holding a public meeting tonight in the town’s The Link Community Centre, St Lurach Road, at 8pm.

The council is proposing to redevelop the grounds of the former High School off Tobermore Road for industrial units and is currently seeking expressions of interest from local business owners interested in re-location.

But Support Maghera Park,who describe themselves as a group of worried residents, say they will oppose the plan.

They have taken up a petition which has been signed by more than 1,300 people concerned about the development. “We believe this beautiful site represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop a 20 acre public park, maintaining the environmental quality and character of this important area within the town, ensuring it stays in public ownership and continues to be protected for future generations,” said a spokesperson for the group.

“This Council’s proposal would result in the loss of vital open space within a town where provision already falls far short of the Council’s own minimum standard for ‘free at the point of use’ public open space and we believe Maghera deserves better.

“We welcome investment and economic development in Maghera, but believe there are other options which do not require the loss of a mature, green site of such huge value.”

The spokesperson stressed that if this opportunity is lost for the town, the parkland will be gone forever.

“We are asking the Council to be brave, listen to the people, and make this a project that everyone can get behind and be proud of, for us, our children and our children’s children.”

Mid Ulster Council is currently consulting with local people regarding their plans for the site.

Chair of the Council, Councillor Sean McPeake, recently said there was a demand for a mixed use site of this kind in Maghera among local businesses.

He said it was time to begin to capture the specific needs of businesses, not just in the immediate area of Maghera, but further afield.