Belfast Telegraph

Agreement reached to end standoff at De La Salle sports facility site

Protestors at the site in west Belfast
Protestors at the site in west Belfast

A six-year long dispute between residents and a west Belfast school over the building of sports facility has been resolved.

In 2013, planning permission granted for a £1.6m sports facility for De La Salle College on Glassmullin Green in Andersonstown, which was to include a 3G pitch, car park and pavilon.

Residents in the area, however, formed Friends of Glassmullin Open Green (FOGOG), a campaign group against the facility, labelling it a "land grab" that would wipe out communal space used by the community.

Campaigners occupied the green for move than 50 days between August and September, when work was due to begin on the project.

This week, however, an agreement was reached between FOGOG and the college to pave the way for the new facility.

The two parties have agreed a limit for the height of the fence to go around the facility and a pledge that no floodlights would be erected.

Martin Derby and Anthony Marron, two local residents at the site, said: "We have agreed, in good faith, a pathway to allow for the construction of the De La Salle sports facility to commence.

"Recently we have been part of positive and open discussions with the college and the outcome is a cohesive proposal that benefits all parties involved.

"We will continue to act with the community and our young people at heart throughout the forthcoming process."

The agreement will see the appointment of a committee of school representative and residents to manage the site.

Claire White, principal of De La Salle College, said the school is "delighted" to have reached a mutual agreement with the residents.

"The facility will provide much needed sports amenities for the pupils of De La Salle College as well as for young people within the community," she said.

"We are excited to see the project come to fruition and are looking forward to participating and working with the newly formed committee to ensure community cohesion."

Albert Hewitt, community coordinator with the trade union Unite, said the agreement will ensure Glassmullin Green delivers for everyone.

“All in all, this represents a very considerable compromise from the side of the developers and this has been agreed by the overwhelming majority of local residents,"

"Instead of the Green being effectively handed over to private interests, it will continue to be accessible to the local community who will derive benefit from the fields."

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