RESIDENTS and sports clubs are being invited to have their say on what the local council says are plans to “breathe new life into community sports, leisure and play facilities” in the north end of Ballymena.
More than £300,000 of investment had previously been earmarked by the Council to refurbish the current changing pavilion at Dunfane Playing Fields but as part of new proposals it would be spent on a new project.
The draft plans involve the removal of two grass football pitches at Dunfane to be replaced with houses, a kick-about area, play park and outdoor gym.
A new 3G floodlit pitch would then be built in the grounds of the nearby St Patrick’s College and St Brigid’s Primary School which could also be used by the community.
The Department for Communities has offered Council another £300,000 to deliver the project.
The proposed plans at Dunfane would see two grass football pitches being replaced with houses, pathways, a kickabout zone with a rubberised surface, play park area, an outdoor gym and ‘open space for community use’.
Money generated from property sales through the Dunfane Playing Fields Masterplan could also be reinvested in further improving facilities within the local school and Dunfane area, the Council says.
Local residents are encouraged to take part in an eight-week consultation on the proposed redevelopment of Dunfane Playing Fields which has now opened.
A public drop-in information session will take place at Ballymena North Business and Recreation Centre on December 4 between 4pm and 8pm.
A Council spokesman said: “These are hugely ambitious plans for Dunfane and the local community, and it is vital residents help us to shape the future of their area.
“Around £300,000 was previously set aside to redevelop unused land and the sporting pavilion in the area. There are currently two grass pitches in the area and the facilities are underused.
“We are currently looking at the possibility of working alongside St Patrick’s College to provide a 3G surface on the school site.
“These surfaces can be used all year round and require minimal upkeep in comparison with grass pitches. Indeed, one 3G surface is said to be as beneficial to local people, clubs and community groups, as six grass pitches.
“We believe that by working in partnership with the school, we can create a situation whereby Council and the local community can achieve a much more cost-effective solution and better use of our collective public assets.
“School pupils would benefit from having modern sporting facilities and the floodlit facilities would be available for use by the wider community, with existing changing facilities at the school negating the need for the redevelopment of the pavilion in Dunfane.
“The health and wellbeing of our citizens is a key priority for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, as outlined in our Community Plan, and sport and outdoor activity are vital to that.
“This also supports our community planning aims by helping to build stronger communities in our borough.
“We believe this is a fantastic opportunity for the area and its residents and a much more prudent use of public money through the collaboration of the school and Council to the advantage of all.”
To take part in the consultation or to find out more, please visit:
The process will close at 5pm on Friday 18 January.