A new £2m youth centre in the heart of Creggan has been given the green light following the unanimous backing of Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Planning Committee.
A wide range of new facilities are planned for the new St. Mary’s Youth Centre on Fanad Drive.
The existing youth club and community hall will be demolished and replaced with a new premises consisting of indoor and outdoor facilities and car parking.
Local councillors on the Planning Committee were told at their monthly meeting in Strabane on Wednesday by a planning officer that the current facilities were “in a fairly bad state of repair.”
The officer said the plans included a 3G Multi-Use Games Area and landscaping, while the centre itself consisted of a sports hall, fitness suite, climbing wall, boxing and dance area, multi-purpose area, an office and a facility for classes. Access to the site will be via a new access point from Fanad Drive close to the current entrance.
Among the conditions attached to the approval by Planners are that within 24 hours prior to demolition, the existing buildings on the site shall be checked for bat presence by an ecologist and that all demolition works be monitored by an ecologist, although it has already been established that there is minimal potential for bat roosting.
While welcoming the plans for St. Mary’s , Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue said she felt this particular condition was “excessive” and would be an additional cost to the youth club. She proposed that the council write to the authorities to ensure that survey work already conducted are taken into account. SDLP Councillor Angela Dobbins endorsed this suggestion.
The planning officer however said that this was a standard condition.
Speaking after the meeting, Creggan Sinn Fein Councillor Kevin Campbell said he was delighted that approval had been granted, adding: “This will be a great asset for the community, especially for the youth of the area.
“This facility is long overdue for the Creggan community as the St Mary’s Youth Club building is well past its sell by date. I remember using it the early 1970s that’s how long it is up. This new modern youth facility will serve the entire community for years to come.
“I would like to congratulate Stevie, all the staff and volunteers at the club for excellent work that they do and wish them well for the exciting times ahead.”
Speaking after the meeting, the Chair of the Planning Committee, Independent Councillor Warren Robinson said: “This is great news for Creggan and is a welcome investment that will regenerate and improve the Fanad Drive area of the city.
“It is in keeping with the commitment set out by council in its Strategic Growth Plan to support community and youth initiatives and when completed, will be a hugely significant community facility for Creggan and the wider area in Derry.”