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Council executive accused of letting red tape strangle Loughrea’s sporting vision

The County Council Executive has been accused of ‘letting bureaucracy stand in the way’ of much-needed sports facilities in one of the county’s biggest towns.

Loughrea area councillors are set to back a proposal to rezone lands adjacent to the town’s bypass to facilitate the development of a major sports hub – but the Council’s Chief Executive has warned that such a proposal may compromise the function of the bypass.

The site, which is within walking distance of the town, has been identified by a local volunteer-led committee as “the only feasible location” which they say will address a dearth of recreation facilities in Loughrea and its hinterland.

Loughrea’s population of more than 6,000 residents is set to grow to 8,500 in the next five years and it currently has just one GAA pitch within the town boundary – solely for the use of the hurling club.

The Loughrea Sports and Community Development Group (LSCDG) has argued that the football, junior hurling, camogie and soccer clubs have no facilities at their disposal – and their proposal to redevelop these lands adjacent to the N65 would provide them with the facilities “they so desperately need”.

Area councillors will meet on Monday morning to consider the Chief Executive’s Report on a Draft Local Area Plan and all indications are that the area’s ten councillors will support rezoning the lands.

The LSCDG, which has been working on these proposals for seven years, say there is ‘no other show in town’, and they state that they have secured agreement to purchase the 45-acre site at agricultural prices.

While the Chief Executive Liam Conneally outlines his noting of their submission, he sets out that the proposal has the potential to impact on the N65’s safety despite a commitment in the proposal for an underpass to access the site.

The Chief Executive has recommended that instead of extending the town boundary to facilitate this proposal, lands at Gorteenapheebera should be rezoned for community purposes.

But local Councillor Michael ‘Moegie’ Maher (FG) said this was a non-runner as the land in this area was not for sale.

“What he is proposing is at the business park at the top of the town, and it is also outside the town boundary and the owner has no intention of selling,” he said.

Caption: Loughrea…sports plan.

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