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Soccer club angry over grounds rezoning

 Brendan Wall at the grounds in Ballycasey during flooding at the end of 2008. Photograph by Declan Monaghan

THERE is anger in the ranks of Shannon Hibs ­Soccer Club, as the draft Shannon Town and Environs Local Area Plan 2012-18 proposes reclassifying both of its two grounds for low-density residential use.
The club has six pitches, three at the old Newtown grounds in Ballycasey and the rest at Riverside Park, close to St Patrick’s ­Comprehensive. One of the pitches at Riverside Park is unused.
Brendan Wall is a well-known member of the club’s committee and said he was very angry that the club hadn’t had any contact about any change in zoning.
“There was absolutely none. Absolutely none,” he said.
He said the club has around 14 teams and that number of pitches is needed because of how damp the terrain is.
“We have to have them because the land around Shannon is of such poor quality you wouldn’t be able to play game after game on a pitch.”
Mr Wall said the club hadn’t made any type of submission on the plan and hadn’t been aware that it could have ramifications for them.
“We were caught on the hop and we didn’t know anything about it. Why have they picked two soccer grounds?
“I don’t know, maybe this is the way things work but at least they could have the courtesy to find out who the secretary was and to write to them.”
He said it was particularly puzzling as the two facilities aren’t anywhere near each other.
The draft plan in relation to both sites states the zoning of each as low-density residential “is required to be carefully evaluated in order not to impact on the recreation and amenity value of the residents of Shannon”.
Interestingly, it does not refer to Shannon Hibs but to Park Rangers and Newtown, the two clubs that amalgamated to form Hibs.
Town and County Councillor Patricia McCarthy said she wasn’t in favour of the pitches’ zoning being changed.
“I will be expressing my concerns about that designation and I don’t agree with it,” she said.
“One of the areas is very prone to flooding and a lot of money has been spent in developing the other one and other areas have not been designated,” she added.
Clare TD Michael McNamara made a submission on the draft plan and he told The Clare Champion that he feels sporting facilities in the town need to be maintained.
He also expressed  concern that the document doesn’t make provision for community childcare or elderly care facilities.
“I welcome the concept of a separate plan for Shannon and its environs but I would like the planners to pay more attention to the needs of children and older people,” he commented.

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