McCreesh Park recommended for closure

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

COUNCIL officials have recommended that a new play park should be developed at Martin's Lane/Loanda Crescent, which will result in the closure of Raymond McCreesh and Barcroft Play Parks.
The recommendation was brought before Newry, Mourne and Down District Council's (NMDC) Active and Healthy Communities committee last night (Monday) to agree upon, following the completion of a PlayBoard NI survey.
It was outlined that in line with NMDC's play strategy that should the new development proceed, the existing play areas would "fulfil their natural life in terms of the condition etc".
Speaking to The Newry Democrat prior to the meeting, the SDLP's Group Leader on the council, Newry City Councillor Gary Stokes, said that while the findings of the consultation "aren't on the table", his party is in favour of a new play park.
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's Newry and Armagh MLA Conor Murphy, said: "Sinn Fein are encouraging the community to analyse the options that are available and respond to them, and then there will be decisions taken in relation to all the facilities in the area beyond that."
NMDC asked PlayBoard NI to undertake a survey to identify which site the community would prefer investment to focus on - the identified new location at Martin's Lane/Loanda Crescent, Barcroft Community Centre or Raymond McCreesh Park.
Within the overview of the survey's findings, which was provided to councillors last night, it was explained that the results were obtained following focus groups with 42 children and young people delivered in conjunction with Rathore Special School, Cloughoge PS and St Malachy's PS, and an online survey of children/young people, parents/carers and wider community members.
In the first consultation, 41.54% indicated that they used Raymond McCreesh Park, 43.75% used Barcroft's play park, while 69.01% said they would prefer if the council invested in a new play area at the site between Martin's Lane and Loanda Crescent.
Only 17% wanted the council to upgrade Raymond McCreesh Park, while 14.08% wished for the same at Barcroft.
In the second consultation, where a total of 52 responses to the online survey were received, 43.24% said they used Raymond McCreesh Park, 51.35% used Barcroft, while the majority (41.67%) indicated that they would prefer the council to upgrade Barcroft.
Of the remainder, 33.3% preferred an investment into a new play area and 25% wished to see an upgrade at Raymond McCreesh Park.
It should be noted that 29 respondents did not provide a response to that question, while the name of Raymond McCreesh Park was identified as a negative factor for a number of respondents.
In total, 57 people voted for a new play area, 20 wanted to see an upgrade at Barcroft and 18 backed an upgrade to Raymond McCreesh Park.
It was recommended in last night's agenda that the council proceeds to developing a new neighbourhood play area at Martin's Lane/Loanda Crescent.
A spokesperson for the council said: "The Newry Play Parks Consolidation Report is a result of the recent three stage community consultation process which Newry, Mourne and Down District Council had asked to be conducted last month.
“The report is to allow councillors to note and agree upon the recommendations, presented and put forward by PlayBoard NI, at the council's Active and Healthy Communities committee meeting on June 18."


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