A £1.4m community centre for Galliagh has been given the green light despite 282 objections.
Local representatives have warmly welcomed the decision on the plans to provide a hub for community groups, offices, a multi-purpose area, a social/cafe area, a computer suite and therapy room.
The 860 sq. m. newbuild facility will be located on a prominent site behind the current Spar Store off the Fairview Road, between Knockalla Park and Ederowen Park and close to St. Joseph’s Church.
The application by Derry City & Strabane District Council was recommended for approval by planners and was endorsed by the Planning Committee on Wednesday.
There were 282 objections to the plans, many of them from residents from Knockalla and Ederowen concerned over issues including the potential for anti-social behaviour, location, flood risk and the removal of the only safe green space for children to play in.
Planning officials said statutory consultees were content with the plans and that the site was moved further away from pensioners’ bungalows following talks with residents.
Galliagh Women’s Group, Off The Streets, Teach Na Failte, CRJ and Galliagh Community Development will all be housed within the new facility, freeing up five social houses.
Planning Community Chair and Independent Councillor Warren Robinson said: “This is a facility long overdue in the Galliagh area. I have been working with a number of groups and agencies in order to make this new centre a reality and I want to pay tribute to the hard work and dedication of all those involved.
“There were genuine concerns expressed by local residents in Ederowen and Knockalla in relation to this application and I would like to offer to engage with them as the project progresses.”
He added: “This is an exiting time for the Galliagh area and will be the first time that the area has been served with a dedicated community facility which will be accessible to all the residents of the area and I will be doing all I can to make sure that no resident feels excluded from this facility. Galliagh is moving forward and this centre can act as a catalyst for community cohesion and growth.”
SDLP Councillor Brian Tierney said: “I am delighted that council’s Planning Committee have approved the planning application for the Galliagh Community Centre, something I have been working on with the Galliagh Steering Group for a long time.
“This is something that is desperately needed as the Galliagh community has never had the benefit of a community building. As is stands, a lot of the young people and community groups are meeting in local flats and portable cabins, in the absence of premises that are suitable for their needs.
Colr. Tierney said Council has put aside half of the funding required for the new centre, and vowed that as a member of the Galliagh Steering Group, he will work closely with partners to secure the remainder.