Thursday 29 June 2017

Road threat to Warwickshire complex

Plans for a new approach road to Birmingham airport is threatening to destroy one of the best-known GAA landmarks in Britain and facilities that cater for 3,000 members. Stock photo: Sportsfile
Plans for a new approach road to Birmingham airport is threatening to destroy one of the best-known GAA landmarks in Britain and facilities that cater for 3,000 members. Stock photo: Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Plans for a new approach road to Birmingham airport is threatening to destroy one of the best-known GAA landmarks in Britain and facilities that cater for 3,000 members.

Warwickshire GAA will find out in May if the route chosen by the Highway Agency is to run through its lands, which house the Páirc na héireann complex, three pitches and eight changing rooms.

"The consultation process is over and we've done all we can to fight our corner. Three routes are under consideration, one of which is going straight through our grounds. If that turns out to be the preferred one, the impact will be very serious, not just for Warwickshire but for the GAA in general in Britain," said Mark McLoughlin, Warwickshire chairman.

The GAA is thriving in the Birmingham area and with Páirc na héireann so well-located, it acts as a hub for the wider GAA in Britain.

Warwickshire, which has 16 clubs, are currently top of Division 3B of the Allianz hurling League. It owns its own grounds and has 16 clubs, catering for all age groups.

If Páirc na héireann is chosen for the road route, it's possible that other land may be provided close by to facilitate a major new development.

Alternatively, Páirc na héireann could be the subject of a compulsory purchase order, leaving Warwickshire with the big challenge of finding alternative lands.

"This could be a real problem for us. If the road goes through our grounds and we're relocated elsewhere close by, it will still be very disruptive. It takes a long time for new pitches to be playable and, of course, there's a lot more involved in moving than just laying new pitches," said McLaughlin, who was a member of St Mary's Saggart, prior to moving to Birmingham 12 years ago where he works as a teacher.

Warwickshire officials had planning permission for a major extension to their clubhouse before being hit with the new road bombshell.

Irish Independent

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