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18/09/2021

Longford Greyhound Track won't be solution to housing crisis

Longford Greyhound Track won't be solution to housing crisis

Some six months later, Longford Greyhound Track nears €600,000 sale, writes Liam Cosgrove

Longford Greyhound Track is on the brink of being sold with a deal expected to be finalised over the coming weeks.

The Leader understands the highest bid on the seven acre site is in excess of €600,000.

The figure is still some way short of its €750,000 guide price with local auctioneering firm Sherry Fitzgerald McGill confident of an agreement being reached by the early part of next month.

The stadium, which closed its doors last year owing to financial pressures, has been the subject of much debate locally as to what its prospective new owners long term plans for the facility are.

Some of that talk has centred on the prospect that the track could be used as a mechanism to ease Longford's perennial housing concerns.

"I am shocked to hear that the Longford greyhound stadium is close to sale, with the buyers intention to inevitably use the site for housing," suggested reader Mark Keenan in a letter to the Longford Leader this week.

"This is a sporting amenity with unparalleled potential in the town.

"Longford is without adequate soccer facilities, and a skate park has been asked for for many years now. The track borders the canal, and could be utilised as a facility for the whole community, one that would remain for generations to come. There are so many possibilities."

Those anxieties were played down by local Independent Cllr Gerry Warnock as he insisted the site could only be used for sporting and recreational purposes under its current guise, adding the only way that could change was if local councillors voted for it.

"The site is currently zoned sports and recreational meaning that it cannot be used for commercial or residential development unless that zoning is changed by resolution of the elected members," he said.

Cllr Warnock said he and his fellow councillors spelled out their views to retain the track's sporting ethos in various submissions ahead of the preparation of the county's new look development plan which runs until 2027.

"It is my belief that we as representatives of the people have a duty to retain and enhance our recreational assets, particularly in urban areas," he said.

Cllr Warnock said given the site's location which was already sandwiched between a deluge of urban housing, it made little sense to rezone the area for further residential development.

"This seven acre recreational site would be an oasis that could open up access to the wonderful amenity of the recently refurbished Royal Canal Walk," he said.

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