Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Residents celebrate as council withdraws Colby Park plans

MP for South Belfast, Dr Alasdair McDonnell, and Mr Gerald and Patricia Kelly of the Four Winds Residents' Association stand at the site of the proposed community centre

Residents of the Four Winds area of south Belfast were celebrating this week after it emerged that plans to build a community centre on an area of parkland beside Colby Park have been withdrawn by Castlereagh Borough Council.

In last week’s edition of The CT, we revealed that the council’s Central Services Committee had agreed to defer an outline planning application for the centre “until such time as we do some further consultation with the local community”.

However, a spokeswoman for the Planning Service has confirmed that the application was withdrawn by the council last Friday, September 12.

Local residents said they had not been consulted about the plans and feared that, if approved, the community centre would have a knock-on effect on residential parking, contribute to growing levels of anti-social behaviour in the park and result in a loss of open green space that is regularly used by local people.

Speaking about the news, Dympna Eaton of the Four Winds Residents’ Association said she was “really pleased that these ill-advised plans had been withdrawn”.

“We’re glad that the green space here will now be protected for the people that live here,” said Ms Eaton.

“The playgorund in the parkland does need upgrading, but only with proper consultation with local residents and with the support of those whose responsibility it is to protect and maintain it.”

Speaking to The CT, Joan McCoy, Castlereagh Borough Council's director for administration and community services, said: “It was decided to withdraw the application completely for an interim period so that local people can be consulted about the proposals.”

South Belfast MP, Dr Alasdair McDonnell, said he was delighted at the withdrawal of the plans.

“This is an example of just what residents can do when they feel strongly about something,” said Dr McDonnell.

“There is a need for recreational facilities for young people in the area but, as all the residents know, this application was totally unsuitable in terms of its size and location. If the residents had been properly consulted in the first place, council staff would have realised this long ago.”

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