More than 150 people attended the first public meeting of the Maghera Park campaign held at The Link Centre in the town.
The meeting, hosted by Maghera Park Action Group, follows a petition against Mid Ulster Council’s current proposal to develop the former High School Site as an industrial park which has so far been signed by over 1,300 residents.
The proposal seeks to rezone the open space to site eight industrial units of up to 20,000sq’ each.
The 19 acre site comprises mature parkland, the Milltown Burn river corridor and wildlife habitat and has been used by the local community as a park and recreation area for generations.
Maghera Park Action Group opened the meeting with a brief overview of the work being done to oppose the council’s plan, providing reasons for this opposition, the alternative public park proposal, and how, as a community, Maghera can be effective in building coalition to persuade the council to do better for the people, community groups, and businesses of Maghera.
The floor was then opened to the public for further discussion.
Overwhelmingly in support of establishing a public park for Maghera, issues discussed by those attending included the current lack of provision (said to be 18.78 acres short of the minimum standard adopted by Mid Ulster Council), the value of this site to the community and the implications of further industrial development on the town’s environment, traffic and housing. Also discussed were the Council’s proposed benefits of the industrial park, with Maghera Park Action Group stating that a survey was currently underway on current industrial unit vacancies, alternative development lands and the potential job creation in sites zoned for storage and distribution.
The meeting closed with a summary of how Maghera as a community will respond to the current consultation on the site and present a strong case for a public park.
Speaking after the event, a Group spokesperson said: “It is incredibly encouraging to see such a huge number of Maghera residents and cross section of our community turn out in support of our campaign.
“We believe good quality parks enhance the quality of life in towns and provide far reaching benefits.”