Dear Colin and residents of Edenderry Village,
Your post was in response to the decision that the village committee took on how we plan to take forward the 2016 Arup Report and subsequent grant award of £100k. As you know the committee was exploring two opportunities 1) the development of a community hall, and 2) environmental enhancements for the village.
Following protracted discussion of all the proposed sites the committee ruled out the development of a community structure as a viable proposal only because none of the proposed sites proved feasible. All sites proved to be unavailable for issues of land ownership, or being outside settlement zone designated by the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan (BMAP).
When it came to the Green last year the committee agreed that there would be no development on the Green. The rationale for this is as follows:
- we are against any green-field development in and around the village, which is within the Lagan Valley Regional Park;
- the precedent that development of a green-field site would provide any developer – how could we argue against green-field development near the village if we ourselves had taken such an approach, it would clearly be hypocritical;
- the Green is outside of the BMAP settlement area; and given that,
- a significant number of people who live within the immediate area of the Green had expressed their opposition to development there, and as they would be more directly impacted we believed that their views should have primacy.
As a committee we recognised that we were taking decisions on behalf of the village, but we are very conscious that we need the trust of the village to do so. Consequently we felt it important to take the mind of the village last year and commissioned the survey you referred to. That survey showed that the village would like both a community hall and environmental improvements – there was no clear winner. Consequently, we explored the community structure proposition and came to the view that there are no sites for a hall at this time, should another similar opportunity emerge in the future this will be explored.
However, I take issue with your point about the survey, where you imply that because not everyone responded to the survey the views expressed should not be taken as the view of the village. The response rate (42%) was recognised by Belfast City Council as commendably high. The fact that a number of people did not respond does not invalidate the survey in any way. Most surveys only take a sample, we, however, endeavoured to take the mind of everyone in the village. The survey, therefore, gave the committee the mandate to explore both options, which we did in good faith.
Consequently, I am happy to call a village meeting on Sunday the 25th at 2pm in the Village Green when I will take the village through the process taken by the committee to date and restate our rationale for no green-field development. We will also update residents on the next steps on environmental improvements and developing the relationship with Belfast City Council, The Woodland Trust and the National Trust.
We are in the process of building a long-term vision for the village which is exciting and will build on the achievements made over the last number of years.
To end, can I remind everyone, time is running out for agreement, if we are not able to give the Council the go-ahead to
develop plans we will lose the money. Given that the next steps are for the Council to scope out what environmental improvements can be made and then feed back to us, if it is the feeling of the village that we need to have a further meeting at that time we are certainly happy to do so.
I propose not to engage in any discussion of this topic by social media, I hope everyone will respect that, however I am happy to meet with anyone who has a view on these issues between the 19th and 24th of February. I shall be away until then.
Chair, Edenderry Residents’ Assoc
Had planned to come to meeting but have to go into work at short notice.
Please keep me informed as to outcome of meeting and is there any word on when the actual development is starting?
Gill no 1 Ruby Cottages
Sent from my iPhone
Just to chip in on things here since a variety of views are being expressed. I am very much in support of the idea of a small community centre for the village. It is clearly a resource sorely missing which could allow a range of activities and communal projects to be developed that cut across intersections of age, class etc. We are a diverse village with people of various economic means and social backgrounds. There are some for whom accesses services beyond the village are well within their means, but there are also many who struggle with the costs of access and transport involved. Regardless of situation, I think there is potential gain for the whole community.
My understanding is that this would be a small, compact unit that sits unobtrusively on a corner of the village green, thus interfering with neither the ascetic nor the usable space. I take Natalie’s point about 24hr access but would suggest that a heated community centre would provide somewhere for parents with young children or older residents, and, indeed, anyone else, to come together around different activities which improve comradery, address issues of loneliness and provide opportunity for friendships and networks to form at any time of year. Certainly, these types of activities do not take place in the open on the village green in, say, mid-December of January (and given our northerly position, for much of the remainder of the year either).
I also find myself wondering if creating an opposition between the two agendas discussed here and elsewhere (e.g. the community cabin vs environmental improvements) is something of a false dichotomy. My understanding, and I believe this is supported by the costings, is that a compact community facility would cost no more than £50,000 (in fact many options come in well below this). This would, therefore, still leave substantial funds for more general environmental improvements as well.
It should, of course, be recognised that there are longer term costs involved in maintaining the upkeep of a community facility. However, I see no reason why a suitable business plan cannot be drawn up to deal with these considerations. Indeed, the support that is clearly evident amongst many in the village, would ensure that there is enthusiasm and engagement with providing small-scale revenue generating services and fundraising activities capable of covering the upkeep which, at the end of the day, would hardly be a staggering figure.
In terms of planning consent, I was under the impression from the general meeting held back in the summer, that the council was happy to support the scheme… this would suggest that planning should not be an issue. In any case, it would seem hasty to dismiss the project on these grounds without proper clarification.
I do appreciate that not everyone is keen on this idea and if it becomes clear that there is a majority opposition then then should, of course, be accepted. However, as Natalie suggests, there appears to be strong support for such a facility somewhere in the village. If the green is the only viable space then perhaps a clear plan/image can be drawn up to show exactly what this would involve and how much impact there would be on the green so people can make an informed decision. I recall at last summer’s general meeting the rear of the marque was opened to show a potential site to the left of the play park… a space that is hardly, if at all, used. As with others, I would not like to see something dropped in the middle of the village green or on the kid’s football pitch, but my understanding is that this was never the suggestion.
I won’t be able to make the meeting next week as I am away that weekend, but wanted to chip in my thoughts and make clear my position. At the end of the day whatever is decided has to be based on a majority of support from the village.
All the best
40 Edenderry Village
Thank you for the arrangement of the EGM. While I am aware you do not wish to get into discussions over social media I think it is important that before the EGM the salient points area raised where everyone can see them. Therefore as the committee have raised 4 points against the village community space I feel the village should be made aware that that of the 4 points raised, the first 3 are not valid arguments against the erection of a village community space.
The committees use of Item 1. and item 2. as reasons to prevent erection of the structure is erroneous. The green, and indeed the entirety of the village area (excluding the field at the end of wee street) is not Green field, it is reclaimed brown field land (mostly material from Sandy row deposited as landfill), therefore Item 1 and 2 are invalid reasons to oppose the construction. Directly in relation to Item 1. have the committee received opposition from Lagan Valley regional park in relation to construction a hall, if so can this evidence be provided at the EGM? In regards to Item 3. the structure which had previously been envisaged was non-permanent and therefore citing BMAP is non relevant as non permanent temporary structures are not considered to fall under the same planning policies (They fall under the same category as garages, polytunnels, sheds, etc. all of which are already constructed within the village BMAP limits noted by the committee). Also as far as I am aware Belfast City council wish to place the structure on the green, and they have planning control.
In regards to Item 4. Clearly the impact on those closest to the proposed hall must be taken into account, however the citing of the community space is for the totality of the community and as such surely a compromise can be reached whereby the negative impacts to the residents in this area can be managed to their satisfaction; while still allowing the majority of the village a new and desperately wanted community space.
Please note that my point on the survey returns was not on the % who returned their surveys, but the number who received the survey in the first place. The total surveys delivered do not appear to equate to the number of properties in the village. However, I stand to be corrected on this.
It should also be noted that a survey is not a vote and that those in the village who are for the community space are happy to accept the results of a clear vote for, or against, it being on the green. As such I would like this added as an item to the agenda for the EGM and for the vote to take place at the meeting once all views have been expressed. This would simply and easily clarify the position of the village and allow the committee to continue with a clear directive from us all.
Firstly, thank you to everyone on the committee for taking so much time over this. It’s very easy to take you all for granted.
I just wanted to say that most people in the village would like a hall. But very few people want to see it at the expense of our existing community space, the green, which is open to everyone, of ALL ages in the village, 24/7/365. This space is not left over, this space has many uses which will be lost and NOT replaced by a building with a key holder and a locked door. The idea of the grant is to add to the village, but not to take away something of value in the process. Many of us who live in the smaller terraces think of that space as a shared green space as we have little tiny gardens. I would like to see the business plan for the hall – how and who the proposers would see funding repairs and checks and maintaining the hall, how the proposal to compensates the village for what is being taken away. I would like to propose that we use the money we have now for environmental improvements as per the views expressed by the majority in the survey, and that if there is a real groundswell behind the community hall, we separately raise money to buy a site from the developer and build a hall in a place which is non-contentious and does not remove something which we all love in the process. If we can raise enough money to maintain the building, we should also be able to raise enough money to build it in the first place. In doing so, we will be doing something by the community, for the community, and no one will be left without a place to play football, have a picnic or birthday party, learn to ride a bike, have a bar b que or just sit on the bench and enjoy a bit of mindfulness in the evening sunshine, all without making a booking.
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