Belfast Telegraph

Former Londonderry school site could house massive multi-million pound sports complex

By John Mulgrew

A huge multi-million pound sports development at the site of a former Londonderry school could be built if plans are given the go-ahead.

Proposals have been drawn up by RPS Group for the massive site at Irish Street in the city.

It was once home to Clondermot High School, which has since been demolished, leaving a vacant area.

A planning application now outlines a huge 500,000 sq ft development, taking in a range of sports areas.

It will include a large, natural turf pitch that could be used for football, rugby or Gaelic games. The plans also include a full-sized 3G football pitch alongside four tennis courts.

A number of plans for the 12-acre site have been proposed over the years since the old school closed.

RPS Group has said in its planning statement that the "various functional requirements of the building have been incorporated into a design that shows a functional but considered approach to meet the needs of the client, and importantly create a significant new facility to serve the local community for years to come".

The area will also include four cricket wickets alongside practice nets, featuring floodlit areas.

Aside from the sports facilities there will also be a pavilion, made up of changing rooms, fire aid facilities and offices.

The large scheme will sit at the site of the former Clondermot High School, which shut its doors in 2007.

The new Lisneal College was then set up following the merger of Faughan Valley and Clondermot High Schools. Lisneal College was the biggest capital project ever undertaken by the former Western Education and Library Board.

The new sports site is the latest major development project to get under way in Londonderry.

Just this week, Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard met with developers behind what could become one of Northern Ireland's largest housing projects in recent years.

The £100m investment by Maghera-based South Bank Square proposes a "neighbourhood development" at Ballyoan, adjacent to Crescent Link and Clooney Road.

Those behind the scheme say it will create approximately 90 full-time construction jobs each year for the next decade.

"This is a hugely important development for Londonderry and my department is committed to working with the developer and his team to seek to address the traffic related issues arising from the Transport Assessment," Mr Hazzard said.

"The housing development is situated adjacent to Caw Roundabout which is a very busy intersection which carries in excess of 50,000 vehicles per day.

"The nature and scale of this development required a transport assessment to be submitted to identify the traffic impacts generated by the proposed development as well as proposed mitigation measures and sustainable transport measures in the form of walking, cycling and bus provision to facilitate this development."

South Bank Square's Seamus Gillan has said the project was an "exciting urban development that will deliver quality family homes in a neighbourhood environment that will include community, retail and business facilities, as well as new local play areas and public space".

Brian Kelly, director of Turley, lead planner for the housing development, is urging the council to give the project the go-ahead.

Belfast Telegraph