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