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Omagh community call for progress on Derry Road development
Published: 14 February, 2012
(l-r) - Cllr Declan Mc Aleer, Siobhan Mc Dermott, Kieran Gallagher and Martin Mc Colgan
Representatives of Omagh community sector met with the Planning Minister, Alex Attwood in Stormont yesterday (Monday) to push for progress on the development of the Strathroy Link Road and the £350 million Opportunity Omagh development proposal on the town's Derry Road. The site was granted outline planning approval last year, while a reserved matters application for a Tesco store on the site is currently under consideration.
The meeting was facilitated by West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty and was attended by the chairman of Omagh District Council's Development Committee, Declan Mc Aleer and Omagh community representatives Kieran Gallagher, Siobhan Mc Dermott and Martin Mc Colgan.
Speaking after the meeting, the chair of Strathroy Community Association, Martin Mc Colgan said 'As representatives of the community sector, we were very keen to impress upon the Minister our desire for progress on this hugely significant development.
'For too long the Strathroy community has been cut off from the rest of Omagh by the presence of a huge military base at Lisanelly and the absence of a route to link us with our hinterland on the Derry Road. The construction of the Strathroy Link will re-connect communities and provide an essential jobs boost in this difficult economic climate.
Mr Mc Colgan's comments were supported by the chair of Lisanelly Regeneration Group, Siobhan Mc Dermott ' During the meeting, I said to the Minister that the proposed development will give hope to our young people by providing training opportunities and high quality jobs to help stem the current 'brain drain'. The creation of the new link road, which is part of the development, will also increase the accessibility and viability of the educational campus proposed for Lisanelly.
Adding to Mc Dermott's comments, Kieran Gallagher from the Culmore/O Kane Residents Group said 'During the meeting, I conveyed to the Minister my frustration that this development should have been well underway at this stage but is being frustrated by individuals exploiting EU habitat legislation. These objectors have no interest in Omagh or its people. As community activists, we are determined to do our best for the young people and future generations of this town.
The chair of the Councils Development Committee, Declan Mc Aleer said 'I took the opportunity to brief the Minister on the many developments in Omagh that the Council, along with government departments and other agencies, has spearheaded over the past decade. The creation of the Strathroy Link Road is a vital piece of infrastructure for the future development of the town and for this reason DRD has prioritised its construction in their sub regional transport plan. I also reminded the Minister that by creating an attractive gateway site to the town, along with jobs and economic investment, the Opportunity Omagh proposal fits into our Omagh 2025 visioning framework.
In summing up the meeting, West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty said 'This was a very frank exchange between Minister Attwood and the Omagh community representatives. The Minister took on board that the communities in question, particularly Strathroy and Lisanelly, are currently cut off from the town and are experiencing high levels of isolation and social deprivation. I am confident that the meeting will focus the Ministers attention on this development proposal and the positive impact it will have on communities. Hopefully, it will help to usher in an era of job creation, economic regeneration and hope for our young people'.
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