Residents not impressed by La Salle pitch plan

By Staff Reporter

A residents’ group campaigning to protect a piece of open land in Andersonstown say they have been left hurt and disappointed over how De La Salle College have gone about the development of their new sports facility.

Many local residents have been campaigning to stop De La Salle from building on the green site at Glassmullin Gardens, adjacent to the school, which will include a 3G pitch and sports and changing facilities as well as a range of environmental works.

Speaking on behalf of Friends of Glassmullin Open Green (FOGOG), Aithne Kerrigan told the Andersonstown News that the group wanted to stress that they were not “anti-De La Salle College”.

“We are not anti any political party or community representatives and we do understand that the school needs resources, we fully understand that – but we do not feel our concerns should be trampled on,” said Aithne.

“We are a mixed group, mixed in terms of ages, young and old residents, from all political backgrounds who are passionate about our community.”

FOGOG said they are “extremely disappointed and very hurt at the way the school has acted thus far”.

“We feel it really goes against the La Salle Christian ethos,” added Aithne.

“We were very disappointed to see plans for the new sport facilities published in last week’s Andersonstown News before they had even been delivered to residents last Thursday. The artist’s impression was delivered the day after it was in the paper. This showed a disregard for residents and their genuine concerns.

 

Residential

“We want to retain the land as open green space. We feel it’s a human rights and health issue. We need open accessible space in what is a very heavily built-up residential area. Every open or green space in the community should not be developed upon.”

Aithne said the residents were very supportive of De La Salle when they moved into their new school building in 2008.

“But we wonder why, when this was happening, did they still move from their Glen Road site when there wasn’t adequate pitch space?

“There are other resources and pitches out there that La Salle can use. We are aware that they have a 25-year lease on pitches with St Genevieve’s High School, it is not as if they do not have alternatives.

“Should this development go ahead residents are going to have to put up with the noise, light, pollution and  oppressive fencing. This will have a dramatic impact on everyday life. There will be no respite for residents, we already put up with a high volume of traffic. We are aware that we have a number of residents in the area who do not have gardens and they need the open green space for walking or playing with their children and grandchildren.”

FOGOG member Anthony Marron said he feels that De La Salle are “half a mile in front of us when it comes to this proposal”.

“The people that are going to ultimately be affected by this have been the last people to know fully what is going on,” said Anthony.

Aithne said that residents are concerned at the issue of private hire of any new sports facility at Glassmullin – particularly in the evenings and at weekends.

“We are worried that this will be an exclusive facility, one that would not be open for all,” she said.

“We are aware that the school approached Belfast City Council in 2008 and that the proposal was rejected on the basis of limitation to access to open green space in West Belfast. We are wondering why in 2014 it now seems acceptable.

“FOGOG have acted in good faith throughout this process and most of the older people who live in the area have had the privilege of enjoying the open space all of their lives.

“We have all chosen to live here because of that open green space. I bought my home here because it is a valuable amenity.

“The open green belongs to the ratepayers and we are 100 per cent for open green space and we have the signatures to prove it. FOGOG are not anti-investment by all means, but we feel La Salle are taking ownership of the green for their own usage.”

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