Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Arson-struck GAA club has planning move turned down

A GAA club in Londonderry that fell foul of arsonists last year has had a planning application for new grounds refused by planners.

The Sean Dolan's clubhouse was razed to the ground in December 2011 in a blaze that also caused damage to the pitch.

The club had been seeking permission for a new pitch, floodlights, car parking and fencing.

A separate application to rebuild the clubhouse and changing facilities has yet to be submitted.

The planners have agreed to a site meeting at the request of the councillor for the area, Kevin Campbell, who is optimistic that approval may yet be given.

Speaking to the North West Telegraph, Cllr Campbell said: “As far as I am aware the reason for the refusal was because of a lack of information on the application, so as soon as is possible I would like a meeting between the planners, the board members of Sean Dolan’s and the agent who submitted the application on their behalf.

“I know the club would like to see a state of the art pitch at Creggan including floodlighting which will allow the team to play at night and the fencing.

“A lack of fencing proved a real headache in the past as young people tended to congregate at the dugouts and use them as drinking dens and then smashed glass on the pitch so it would be important that is not allowed to happen again. Hopefully once this has been sorted the application for rebuilding the clubhouse will follow.” Sean Dolan's is one of the largest GAA clubs in Derry city and has had a presence in Creggan for more than 40 years.

Following the fire doubt was cast on its future as the cost of rebuilding the clubhouse was estimated at £250,000.

Some members had considered disbanding the club completely, but following meetings with the Derry County Board it was agreed to continue and rebuild.

Initially the PSNI had said the fire was started accidentally, however, after club members viewed CCTV which showed two figures outside the club and a series of flashes, the police declared the fire as arson. To date no one has ever been convicted for the crime.

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