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Council’s legal bill for failed SRC campus at Craigavon Lakes cost ratepayers £1.3m

Craigavon SRC Campus

A botched planning application for a new Southern Regional College campus at Craigavon Lakes – and its subsequent legal battle – saw Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council fork out £1.3 million in legal costs.

Costs had originally been reported at approximately £800,000 back in 2022, however, a more recent Freedom of Information request has revealed the costs – which will be picked up by the ratepayer – as being significantly higher.

Amounts incurred include £402,039.90 for Council’s legal costs relating to an initial Judicial Review, a further £297,148.70 in legal costs associated with proceedings at the Court of Appeal and £387,977.84 incurred by Council in respect of the applicant’s legal costs.

Council also incurred £165,397.00 for legal costs and £7,579.92 for a consultant in respect of the original planning application and decision.

Alliance Upper Bann MLA Eóin Tennyson branded the £1.3m cost to ratepayers a “scandal”.

“That the cost of this botched planning decision has now swelled to a staggering £1.3 million is nothing short of a scandal,” he said.

“This is money which would have been far better invested in frontline services, rather than in defending an ill-judged planning decision which was not supported by the community in the first place.

“Lessons from this debacle must be learned by the Council, and indeed by those parties who supported the application at Planning Committee, to ensure that never again is public money squandered in such a reckless way.

“Our collective focus must now shift to how we protect the park as a much-loved community asset; whilst finding a suitable alternative site for further education provision in central Craigavon.”

For years, a lobby group set up to save Craigavon City Parks and Lakes, argued that the planning process for the development of the College was flawed.

They also fought, through Judicial Review, the planning permission that was given for the development and building of the SRC beside the lakes on land designated for recreational use. They won their case.

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