Derry reps called for renewed focus as Levelling up masterplan bid for Country Park unsuccessful

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There have been calls for a ‘renewed focus’ after a bid for funding to help realise a masterplan for Creggan Country Park was rejected.

At a recent Derry City and Strabane Council meeting, members expressed concerns over the lack of progress in Creggan Country Park’s regeneration and the potential impact of flooding on the reservoir.

The council has committed to undertaking critical health and safety works at the reservoir, and a draft masterplan for the Country Park was developed but the future of that blueprint is now dependant on funding being secured.

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Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson highlighted the lack of updates on the issue and emphasised the need for a ‘renewed focus’ on the reservoir’s problems to allow other projects to progress.

Creggan Country Park.Creggan Country Park.
Creggan Country Park.

“I would like to see some sort of time-frame around how we can overcome this and give that reassurance to those that have got an interest in investing in our city and district in delivering facilities for our communities,” he said.

“This was raised in open business last month and it’s only right that we raise it again and ask officers to come back and give us some sort of an indication or give us some sort of a commitment that this will be a priority for council; that we will find a solution to this and we will unlock the constraints that have been placed based upon those planning applications that have sort of reached a brick wall because of issues surrounding Creggan reservoir.”

People Before Profit Colr. Shaun Harkin, discussed the importance of creating a masterplan for Creggan Country Park, describing the area’s potential as a valuable resource for the district.

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“We still think that it’s a priority that this area is fully redeveloped and regenerated primarily for the people of Creggan, for the people of Glenowen, the people of Rosemount and addressing the flooding issue is part of that but it’s not the sole issue because in some ways, that’s about the people downstream from the reservoirs.

Sinn Féin Colr. Christopher Jackson.Sinn Féin Colr. Christopher Jackson.
Sinn Féin Colr. Christopher Jackson.

“This is about Creggan Country Park itself because, as has been agreed in this chamber, this is a potential gem for the district. It’s been long neglected in terms of funding.”

“I know that there’s work that’s been going on on this, but it’s taken quite a while and from our perspective, it’s not very visible.

“I suppose after May I would like to see the council officers producing a paper that actually documents where we are in terms of moving forward a master plan so that the people that live in that area can fully enjoy and utilise Creggan Country Park because it’s it’s not open to the public in the way that it should be.”

SDLP Colr. Brian Tierney expressed support for the development of a masterplan for Creggan Country Park, as well as for all other parts of the city and district. He also enquired about updates on the Levelling Up Fund.

Echoing the need for urgency he added: “The last thing we want is projects sitting spade ready and planning being the difficulty around the particular issue at the reservoir regardless of how likely or not it is to actually be a problem.”

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Council Chief Executive John Kelpie informed members that the council had assumed the role of reservoir manager and was committed to undertaking necessary health and safety works. He noted that a draft masterplan was developed and submitted to the Levelling Up Fund but was not successful at that time. However, the plan is still being pursued as funding opportunities arise.

Karen McFarland, Director of Health & Community, said they were continuing to engage with Creggan Country Park and would provide an updated report on the masterplan once the election was over.

Colr. Jackson requested council’s proactive engagement with applicants whose planning applications had been held up, while Colr. Maeve O’Neill asked if the masterplan would be subject to public consultation.

Ms McFarland responded: “We were developing this with Creggan Country Park in the roll up to the short timescale for application to the Levelling Up Fund, so we will bring it in to members in terms of what has been developed to date. Then, subject to members’ views, we can consider how we take it forward in terms of engaging with all our stakeholders and residents. Again, just to stress that it is subject to funding because we do not have a funding course for this at the minute but we are definitely looking at it.”

Replying to Colr. Jackson’s inquiries, Mr Kelpie assured him: “If any applicant within the planning service has queries that we can provide some clarification in respect of, we will proactively do that.”

Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter