Ballynahinch earmarked for £1m funding boost

Ballynahinch earmarked for £1m funding boost

9 June 2021

BALLYNAHINCH could be in line for a near £1m investment to overhaul sports and community provision in the town.

The Recorder understands that plans are being drawn up to invest around £300,000 on a major upgrade of the Windmill Street community centre, with £30,000 being earmarked to finance internal alterations of the local authority-owned Market House in the town centre.

An ultra-modern 3G sports pitch is being considered for the Langley Road playing fields with the adjoining sports pavilion also in line for a major upgrade. The various proposals have been outlined to Rowallane councillors who are excited at the proposed investment.

Last year, the Recorder revealed that a major drive was underway to significantly improve leisure provision in Ballynahinch with the local authority now putting the wheels in motion to achieve this goal.

Politicians asked council officials to address the local authority’s under investment in the town and ensure that enhancing leisure facilities was a critical component of the organisation’s future investment plans.

Council officials had previously been asked to examine the potential of extending and upgrading the existing community centre at Windmill Street or a complete new-build, potentially on available land at the town’s Langley Road or at the Newcastle Road.

However, they have opted to commit £300,000 on a major upgrade of the existing complex which will include a reconfiguration of the internal floorspace in a bid to increase the building’s usage.

Major new leisure provision has recently been provided across the council area including Downpatrick, Saintfield and Newry, with plans in the pipeline for significant investment in new leisure services in Newcastle.

Politicians say while Ballynahinch has missed out on major local authority investment over recent years, the organisation needs to address this now to cater for the needs of local people and sporting organisations.

While the planned investment is at the early stage, politicians have welcomed the local council’s commitment to Ballynahinch and are keen to see the plans supported by the full council when they come to discuss them.

It is understood that the proposed Ballynahinch investment will be discussed at a forthcoming meeting of the local authority’s Active and Healthy Communities Committee which will then make a recommendation to the full council.

Politicians are keen to work in partnership with council officials and the Ballynahinch Community Collective to improve sports and community provision in the town to meet the needs of a wide range of people.

Elected representatives say Ballynahinch needs to be at the heart of planned investment in future leisure provision across the Newry, Mourne and Down Council area.

One politician said given the huge amount of money already investment in towns like Downpatrick and Saintfield, it is vital that Ballynahinch is no longer “left behind” and gets a fair share of local authority funding.

“It is early days as far as the proposed work is concerned, but with everyone on board we all hope that major progress can be made this year. There have been a series of constructive meetings to date and we hope progress can be made,” said the politician.

“There is an excellent working relationship between all the elected representatives across the Rowallane area and they are keen to improve leisure provision in Ballynahinch which requires modern leisure, sports and community provision.

“It will be interesting to see the final costings for these various schemes and to see work progressing on this much-needed work and included in the council’s capital development programme. We are at the start of an exciting journey for the people of Ballynahinch.”