The Head of Community Development and Leisure presented the above report for information, which had been previously circulated to Members. The purpose of the report was to update Members on proposals for Melvin Arena to meet the criteria of IFA’s Championship/Premier Intermediate League.
Councillor Gallagher informed the Committee that during a recent meeting, at which he had been in attendance, a former planner had advised that the short term proposal would not require planning permission on the grounds of permitted development. He further explained that he had consulted with the Lead Legal Services Officer who had advised that this was not the case and that the short –term proposal did not meet the criteria to qualify for permitted development. Councillor Gallagher stated that clear definitive answers were required in relation to this. He also raised concerns that language used within the report such as the term “most likely” was not definitive enough.
Councillor P Kelly stated that Councillors and Officers needed to be careful about comments made surrounding planning permission following indications that Strabane Athletic FC were commencing a legal process.
Alderman Hussey referred to Paragraphs 3.1 and 3.4 within the report and stated that he felt it was clear that the proposal could not move forward. He highlighted the difference in provision of this type of facility from the Derry City to the Strabane areas and felt that this may be an issue for some stakeholders.
Councillor Tierney also noted concerns in the type of language used within Paragraph 3.1 in the report.
In response, the Head of Community Development and Leisure clarified that the long-term proposal definitely needed planning permission. In relation to the short-term proposal he advised that no plans had been submitted which could be presented to the Planning department for consideration and this was the reason for the non-definitive language.
Councillor Gallagher reiterated the need for Councillors as public representatives to be able to provide reliable information to stakeholders.
Councillor R McHugh suggested that Council seek a Planning opinion on the proposal.
Councillor Tierney expressed his support for this suggestion, but noted that Planning consideration could not be sought without submitted plans.
Councillor R McHugh suggested this was an opportunity for Strabane Athletic Football Club to compile the short-term proposal in writing for consideration by the planning service.
Recommended that Members note the content of the report.