Conlig Reservoirs up for sale

Councillor Muir at Conlig Reservoirs
I am urging Northern Ireland Water to provide more information on the planned sale of Conlig Upper and Lower Reservoirs after discovering that the potential for private sale is actively being explored.

I made contact with NI Water after a local resident approached me with concerns that the Reservoirs could be sold with the much loved open space lost for alternative and potentially unwelcome uses.

In response an NI Water official stated “Within the past few weeks we have had some enquiries regarding the status of the reservoirs, and potential for private sale … NI Water has no plans to sell these reservoirs on the open market.”

I am extremely concerned to learn that NI Water plan to sell these Reservoirs which adjoin major housing areas in Conlig Village and Beechfield. For many years they have open spaces, accessible for all to enjoy, take a stroll or to walk your dog. With a private sale now potentially due to take place behind closed doors an uncertain future beckons for those neighbouring both Reservoirs plus those who enjoy the public spaces.

Concerns are accentuated when you examine consultation responses to the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan which indicate a desire to rezone the areas for housing. Whilst the Planning Appeals Commission thankfully rejected this proposal, noting the “significant amenity value” the potential for this proposal to again arise as part of the new Ards and North Down Area Plan has left many residents extremely apprehensive.

Rather than leaving local people in the dark and uncertain of the future ahead I urge NI Water to provide much more clarity on the issue including potential purchasers and the nature of any alternative uses being explored. I have already asked NI Water to meet in order to elicit this clarity but sadly they used the election period as cover to refuse any meeting until after 5 May stating “Unfortunately due to the purdah period leading up to the Assembly elections, I will not be able to meet with you until after the elections have taken place."

I have however already submitted a formal request for a meeting to take place after 5 May and a Freedom of Information request to extract as much information as possible concerning the somewhat secret plans being hatched behind closed doors.