“Save Jennings Park” campaign gains momentum

November 3, 2014

Plans to sell Newry’s Jennings Park to make way for a new health hub in the city have been met with widespread opposition by the local community. A campaign to save the park has led to the creation of a “Save Jennings Park” group on social media, which has gained overwhelming support from concerned residents fiercely opposed to the loss of their “green space.”

Residents have also drafted a response to a Council consultation letter on the matter which advised of the potential sale of the site and the importance of receiving the views of local residents before the Council makes a decision on whether to put the land on the open market for all potential bidders to submit a bid to purchase. The Council letter also noted that one of the interested parties wishes to develop the land for the new Community Treatment Centre.

In response, residents state that they wish for the Council to retain ownership of the site, named after famous Northern Ireland goalkeeper and Newry native, Pat Jennings, and that it continues to be used as a sports area.  Furthermore the “Concerned Residents” letter asks for the land to be protected in the future as a public green space.

The local community’s response highlights that the volume of extra traffic and pollution the Health Hub would generate in the already built up area would not be sustainable given the infrastructure in place at the Meadow and underlines Jennings Park long tradition of recreational and sporting use for people and local football teams in the area.

The Save Jennings Park Facebook page has sparked much comment and debate on the issue, with one supporter describing the sale of the land as “tearing a lung out of the city” while others have voiced their wholehearted support for a petition and public protest to demonstrate opposition to the proposed sale.

SDLP Newry councillor Kevin McAteer met with local residents last week to hear their concerns about the suitability of the location and the problems heavy traffic flows would cause.

“I have spoken with residents in the Jennings Park area and they have told me that although they support a new health hub in Newry, they cannot support this site as a location,” he said.

“I agree with their assessment that the infrastructure at Clanrye Avenue would simply be unable to sustain the heavy traffic that would result from such a development.

“I have also listened to the concerns of members of local football teams who regularly play on Jennings Park as a part of the Carnbane league. They have expressed their fears that they will be unable to hold local football matches in the area as a result of such a development.”

The Councillor said he would listen to the concerns of everyone with a stake in the project and called upon the Council “to listen to their views and take them into consideration before any decision is made.”