The designation of a plot of Church of Ireland owned land in Eglinton as a flood plain has dealt a blow to a local parish’s plans to replace a hall destroyed by the disastrous floods of August 2017.
St. Canice’s Parish Church and its nearby hall were among the many homes and premises damaged after local rivers burst their banks after heavy rainfall two years ago.
The church was reopened in June last year, after being closed for almost a year for repairs.
The parish’s select vestry had been planning to sell a 4.5-acre field to help pay for the development of the hall.
Last month, however, Department for Infrastructure (DfI) officials informed Church representatives that the field was to be designated as flood plain – reducing its value.
The Rector of St Canice’s, Rev Canon Paul Hoey, told his parishioners at a meeting on September 4 that the Department’s decision was a “tremendous blow”.
Two acres had been deemed suitable for residential development and the Select Vestry had been hoping to sell it for housing for Eglinton’s growing population.
“The Department’s decision has the effect of reducing the value from the sale from potentially over £650,000 to whatever the agricultural rate is.”
The Rector said the parish is unlikely to appeal the DfI’s decision.
“We’ve been told that any appeal would be costly and likely to fail. We also want to be good neighbours. We don’t wish to delay flood protection measures being provided to protect local homes in the village,” he said.
The ‘Journal’ requested details of the flood plain designation from the Department of Infrastructure (DfI) but none were available when the paper went to Press.
Canon Hoey said the next few weeks would be a time for “reflection, prayer, and discussion” while parishioners consider what to do next. “We’re not going to rush into any decisions,” he said.
A parish meeting will be held in October.