Council told to reveal secret Master Plan document

Image of South Lake Master Plan
Image of South Lake Master Plan

A secret document on the future plans for Craigavon Lakes must be shown to campaigers after a probe by the NI Information Commissioner.

Even councillors at Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council have yet to see the South Lakes Master Plan.

Doug Beattie MC MLA

Doug Beattie MC MLA

Council officers have kept it under wraps despite pleas from Save Craigavon Lakes and Park campaigners who want to reverse a decision to grant planning permission for a new Southern Regional College (SRC) campus at the lakes.

Read here about the planning decision earlier this year

Campaigners and politicians have fought vigorously, resorting mostly to using Freedom of Information requests as their bid for information which they claim was regularly blocked.

In a landmark decision, the Information Commission set up a probe into refusals by the council to release the Master Plan, on the grounds that it was an ‘unfinished document’.

Read here how the SRC unveiled its plans for the South Lakes campus

However the commissioner decided this week that the council had not correctly applied the regulation in relation to withholding information and ordered the council to disclose a copy of the document to the complainant.

Upper Bann MLA Doug Beattie said it was clear the council was ‘wrong to withhold’ the document which led to the SRC application to build at ‘Craigavon lakes not being scrutinised correctly by councillors on the planning committee who were never shown a copy of the plan’.

“As an MLA for the area I made representations to the planning committee outlining that, as councillors on the planning committee, had not seen the Plan they did not have all the information to make an informed decision. This argument was discounted by the planning committee.

“As it is new information it is clear the initial granting of planning permission must be set aside. I have written to the NI Public Ombudsman (NIPSO) to look into how this planning decision was taken in the first place given information that was denied councillors and the public as well as the fact the land is zoned for sport and recreation not education.”