AN MLA says that plans to transform the site of a former secondary school in Garvagh in to a community facility, will be an ‘economic driver’ for the rural town.
DUP MLA Adrian McQuillan, a former pupil of Garvagh High School, is behind the idea.
Garvagh High School closed last June. The closure not only had an impact on pupils but also businesses in the town.
After the closure, the MLA met with other interested parties and a committee was set up to take the idea forward.
Last week, another meeting was held to give members of the public an update on the proposals.
Speaking to The Times, McQuillan said that the most important element of the project must be that the facility will be self sustainable.
“This community hub cannot be a burden on the rate payers, it must fund itself, that is the most important thing,” urged McQuillan.
“The school is in an ideal location, in the middle of the town.
“It is just next to the forest, so it could be used as a starting point for moutain bikers, Garvagh museum could also use it and we have opened up discussion with local allotment holders who would be keen to use the land.
“Ideally there would be units for enterprise and some kind of education and learning on the site.
“The school is still at this point owned by the Education Board but we are hopeful that we will be able to work with them.”
The MLA went on: “Garvagh is the gateway to the North Coast from the mid-Ulster area.
“The site at the school has plenty of ground so I can see that there will be tourist opportunities there too - perhaps we could cater for campers and caravaners, making Garvagh a stop off point for people.”
The meeting last week was well attended, and the MLA says that the numbers prove how well the idea has gone down in the town: “People are really interested, they are keen to secure the site and put it to good use.”