independent

Wednesday 22 October 2014

€10m site now a 'vegetable patch'

JOHN MANNING

Published 02/10/2012 | 17:00

Liam Buckley, left, Director of Football, Fingal Football Development Plan and John O'Brien, Senior Executive Officer, Fingal County Council Community Culture and Sports Division at the original launch of the plan back in 2007.

A NON-DESCRIPT field in Lusk is testament to the follies of the Celtic Tiger years and evidence, if more were needed, that the grand projects that seemed possible in Fingal just a few short years ago are now little more than a pipe-dream thanks to the economic collapse.

The site once planned to house a €10 million sports academy is now being let to a farmer for growing crops under a 'con-acre' arrangement with Fingal County Council, the Fingal Independent can reveal. The council admitted the land it owns at the site is under con-acre when it answered a question on the issue from Cllr Ken Farrell (Lab) where the local authority said it had 'no plans' for the site in the future. Speaking to the Fingal Independent, Cllr Farrell (Lab) said he was disappointed with a one-line reply from the council on the issue and said he was determined to see the land being used for the benefit of the wider community.

Cllr Farrell lamented the loss of what he said would have been a 'great project for Lusk' but he feared that news that the land was now being used for agriculture looked like the 'final nail in the coffin' for the €10 million project. In July of 2008, the Fingal Independent first reported that a multimillion Euro sports academy was bound for Lusk after a plan to build the facility in Turvey fell through due to environmental concerns. The proposed site was adjacent to the Skerries Road roundabout in Lusk, close to the site of a proposed secondary school for the area. By December of 2008, the year the economic landscape changed in Ireland, plans for the facility were pressed ahead and soon it had a new name, ' The Fingal Sports Complex' and it came with a €10 million price tag.

The 5.7 hectare site was to be home to an impressive complex that includes an indoor pitch and two outdoor, floodlit pitches with a seating capacity close to 5,000. The project was almost universally welcomed by local councillors at the time and was seen as a major boon to the town of Lusk. Only Cllr Clare Daly, now a TD, expressed reservations about the project when she said she was worried that the large price tag on the project would stop other vital community developments around the county going ahead. The transformation from a site for an ambitious €10 million sports complex to nothing more than a vegetable patch is a shocking illustration of how the economic landscape and the ambitions of the local authority has changed in a few short years.

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