Introduction To Derryhale Residents Association
By our Chairman, Dr. John Galway.
In late March 2000 a few residents of Derryhale discovered, by accident, that plans had been produced to enable extensive rural housing development in the small settlement (townland) of Derryhale. The plans constituted part of the Armagh Area Plan 2004. These strategic plans had the potential to create considerable change within the area.
Pessimists see change as a threat; in contrast, to the optimist it is an opportunity. Local residents, being optimistic, have accepted these general planning proposals for the locality as an opportunity to enhance the local area, develop amenities and seek to assist local planners in their complex task.
As individuals we recognised that we spoke with many voices; too many to provide a balanced consensus with which to approach other interested parties. From this awareness the embryonic Residents Association was conceived and has grown from a nucleus of half a dozen concerned and anxious individuals, to a fully fledged active association consisting of elected office bearers, who meet regularly, and a membership of 68.
We have been fortunate to have had advice and assistance in constituting the association, from public bodies, local councilors and friends of the Association.
Development of the Association.
The inaugural meeting was held in Laurelvale Cricket Club premises, to whom we owe a considerable debt of gratitude, on Wednesday 5th. April 2000. The meeting was open to all residents of the area and environs and was attended by 49 people. At this meeting we had a presentation and review of the salient features and proposals contained in the Armagh Area Plan 2004, as it would apply to Derryhale. Following discussion the meeting accepted a formal proposal to establish a Residents Association. This proposal had unanimous support from the meeting. The original nucleus group undertook to formulate a draft constitution for discussion at a subsequent meeting of residents.
The second meeting was held on Wednesday 10th. May 2000 in the same premises. The draft constitution was presented, discussed and with minor amendment was adopted by those present. Following this Office Bearers were elected in accord with the constitution. Initially the primary objective of the Association had been to liaise with Planners, the Planning Commissioners, local Councillors and Developers in an endeavour to ensure that specific development in Derryhale would enhance the local area.
As Residents, the majority of us had been unaware of the Armagh Area Plan and it's potential ramifications and impact on the community, notwithstanding the fact that Local Planners had complied with statutory requirements to advertise the proposals by Public Notice.
We had seen this lack of communication as an erosion of our citizen's rights through which we had lost any opportunity to make comment. This poor communication reflects more on current inadequate and unrealistic planning legislation than on those empowered to undertake the planning exercise.
The feeling of deprivation crystallised as scepticism, suspicion and a determination to take every opportunity to have input to all future planning. To this end, we have maintained close liaison with local Planning Authority. It is with considerable pleasure and satisfaction that we have been able to establish a very useful and constructive professional relationship with Local Planners and other sections of the Department of Environment which can only be to our mutual benefit.
Notwithstanding, that the original purpose was to "protect" our rural community from potential "exploitation" by external agents, our secondary role is now being developed in accord with our Constitution and Business Plan. These further objectives include:_
1/ Maintenance, by the Association, of open contact with External Providers including Statutory and Voluntary groups.
2/ Maintain and extend liaison with local Residents.
3/ Represent, as appropriate, individual Residents interests within the consensus of the Residents Association.
4/ Stimulate development of Special Interest Groups and Projects within the Association.
5/ Ensure financial viability through Internal and External support.
6/ Extend Membership of the Association to residents and others residing adjacent to the boundaries of Derryhale.
7/ Establish contact and develop mutual interests with other Residents Associations.
Derryhale Residents Association.
Dated 10th. March 2001.