IT will lose sports grounds in land deal, say students

STUDENTS at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) say they will be left without training or playing grounds if Waterford Crystal’s plans to rezone almost 25 acres, which it leases to the college, are approved.

If the land is rezoned and sold, it will leave the college without playing grounds for its successful hurling, soccer, rugby and athletics teams.

WIT has featured in five out of the last six Fitzgibbon Cup, inter-college hurling finals. In the past fortnight, the hurlers were going for three Fitzgibbon Cups in a row.

Student union president Mick O’Sullivan said he fears the rezoning and the expected sale of the land will leave the college and the thousands of students who play outdoor sports high and dry.

“The warning signs have been there for ages. Everyone knew that Waterford Crystal was having problems and that this sale could be on the cards. Yet nobody did anything. There are plans for another IT campus but these lands won’t be ready for playing for at least a year. Where do our clubs and societies go?” he added.

A spokesperson for WIT was unavailable for comment.

Today is the deadline for public submissions on the proposed rezoning.

Waterford City Council said yesterday just two submissions had been made so far. These will be handed to the senior planner, who will prepare a report for the local authority.

A special council meeting will be held to discuss the rezoning, which will require a majority vote if it is to go ahead. Each proposed development on the site would then require separate planning, a council spokesperson said.

Local businesswoman and town planner Stephanie Taheny has already raised her objection.

The corporation sold five acres of land to Waterford Crystal in 1997 for about €32,000. The authority also sold the company five acres in the 1970s for about €12,000. The sales were based on the understanding that the land would be for recreational use, said Ms Taheny.

The IDA has said it already has quite a lot of industrial land available within the city. Among these landbanks are 52 acres at Knockhouse; 69 acres at Butlerstown; 136 acres at Belview and some smaller units and spaces at the main IDA industrial estate.

Earlier this year, the Waterford IDA branch abandoned plans for a 150-acre extension to its 136-acre landbank in south Kilkenny, close to Belview Port.

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