Major development plans for Saintfield

Major development plans for Saintfield

7 March 2018

SAINTFIELD United have been given the green light to undertake a massive redevelopment programme at their ground on the Comber Road.

Established in 1972, the community-based club has over 250 members with three adult and four juvenile teams and a thriving mini-soccer section.

To cater for the ever-expanding numbers at the club, additional land was acquired last year and following a three-month public 

consultation exercise with key stakeholders, proposals for a major development scheme was submitted.

The proposed redevelopment includes a full-size intermediate standard pitch, floodlit training area, junior pitch, clubhouse extension, community garden, ancillary storage and parking facilities.

The club was one of the first in the district to establish a youth programme — a programme which has borne much success with many of those coming through the youth ranks representing the club at senior level and going on to play in the upper echelons of the Irish League.

More importantly, however, this programme has provided an outlet for the youth of the area when current resources, support and facilities in Saintfield are scarce.

Saintfield United has provided training and match facilities to all members at their Comber Road base and the adjacent soccer pitch which is leased from the education authority, but the club has seriously outgrown its current facilities, demonstrated by a number of teams utilising facilities at other venues, where and when available, for training. 

In addition, five of the club’s seven teams play home games outside the village.

Planning permission for the programme was secured and over recent months the club has been successful in securing offers of financial support to commence stage one of the development —completion of a full size soccer pitch, community garden and associated parking facilities.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, through their Sports Capital programme, have provided the club with an offer of funding. 

In addition, the popular Alpha Programme have provided the club with £50k of support to help them develop the new grass pitch and improve the environment. The Alpha Programme initiative was launched in 2008 by Alpha Resource Management, a waste and green energy company, who distribute funding four times per year through the Landfill Communities Fund. 

Successful applicants have included a diverse range of community and biodiversity projects within a 15-mile radius of the landfill site at Mullaghglass on the outskirts of Lisburn.

Work is expected to commence this summer, with the club planning to undertake significant fundraising activities to support the development.

In order for the development to be successful, support from club members and the wider Saintfield community is essential — and that is not lost on club chairman Andy Bishop.

“This project is another milestone in the development and growth of the club,” he said.

“With support of key stakeholders, this redevelopment will help sustain an active sporting community within Saintfield and help build on the extremely successful youth policy that is the foundation of the club.”

Club president Jim Spratt is also delighted to get the redevelopment underway and paid tribute to the hard-working club members behind the initiative.

“I would commend the hard work undertaken by the Officers and Committee of Saintfield United Football Club, together with our community partners, in bringing this project to its current stage,” he said.

Richard Rogers, from Groundwork NI, who helped club officials to get to this stage, remarked: “We are delighted to have been able to help Saintfield United get this project off the ground.

“This facility will benefit the whole community, as well as allowing the club to develop and meet growing demand.”