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Asbestos prompts parking rethink

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Asbestos prompts parking rethink thumbnailAerial view showing the Catering College site’s proximity to Open venue Royal Portrush.

PLANS to use a 10-acre brownfield site for parking during next year's Open Golf Championships have been abandoned because of asbestos contamination.
Located just yards from the tournament's Royal Portrush venue, the old catering college grounds had been designated a coach park and drop-off point under the council's event 'transport plan'.
Recent air tests found fibre levels "significantly below" safety limits.
But Ulster University which owns the Ballywillan Road site said another review was planned and confirmed it would play no part in next year's event. 
The Catering College buildings were demolished in 2009-10 after the university had declared it surplus to requirements. The site now has planning approval for  a housing development.
According to the university, "full asbestos removal" was conducted by licenced contractors at the time and the Health and Safety Executive was advised of the works.
A spokesperson added: "Results from air tests conducted in recent weeks report fibre levels significantly below the safety control limit and in-line with background concentrations expected in any urban area.
“We are also arranging a supplementary review of the site by specialist consultants."
Addressing queries on plans to use the site during the Open, the spokesperson added: "There are no arrangements in place for the site to be used during the Open Championship."
The 148th Open will be played at the nearby  Royal Portrush Golf Club from Sunday 14 to Sunday 21 July 2019.
It will be the first time the Open has returned to Northern Ireland since Max Faulkner's victory in 1951.
According to the council, the tournament will be the largest sporting event ever staged in Northern Ireland and will have the greatest economic impact of any sports event ever staged here.
More than 200,000 spectators are likely to attend and while many will be staying in the Portrush area, thousands will be travelling into the Borough each day.
Plans are in place to ramp up public transport but the council must also provide around 14,000 park-and-ride spaces outside town. 
It also needs to find 8000 reserved spaces closer to the site for support staff, players, media and officials.
Most of the council controlled car parks in Portrush will be requisitioned
and, according to a Transport Plan issued to members earlier this year, the university's 10-acre catering college site was to play a significant role.
Designated as a coach park and drop-off point during the event, it was also to be used before and after the tournament.
“It is the intention to utilise the site prior to the event and afterwards, whilst the television compound is being constructed and removed," the report states.
“The 10 acre site has the capacity to accommodate 1500 vehicles.
In response to Chronicle's queries about its rejection of the site, the council would only say it was considering "numerous permutations" for the Open transport plan, alongside the R&A, Transport NI and Translink.
DUP councillor Mark Fielding confirmed he'd been in touch with the university on behalf of concerned residents.
“I am pleased they indicated they are arranging a supplementary review of the site by specialist  consultants," he said.
“I believe we need reassurance on this matter which is why I welcome the planned supplementary review."

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