Playground upgrade needed at Delamont

Playground upgrade needed at Delamont

6 November 2019

PLANS for the future development of Delamont Country Park on the shores of Strangford Lough must include a major upgrade of the current children’s adventure playground, according to a local politician.

Newry, Mourne and Down Council will shortly unveil its blueprint for the future development of the park which will come just over a year after people were asked for their views on what they would like to see provided.

Rowallane councillor Robert Burgess — who took part in the public consultation process — says an upgrade of the play park is needed to ensure it can be used all-year-round.

He said wet conditions resulted in underfoot conditions becoming particularly muddy and slippy and believes consideration must be given to ensuring that the play park surface is easily accessible at all times. Cllr Burgess said that covering the entire play area in bark could help achieve this.

The local council insists that it is committed to making one of the best county parks of its kind in Northern Ireland even better, with the blueprint aiming to increase already impressive visitor figures.

Cllr Burgess is keen for the local authority to work with the Education Authority to provide a new jetty to access Strangford Lough. In addition, he wants the education body to restore crumbling farm buildings which it owns at the country park.

His call for action comes as work continues to overhaul and extend the Education Authority’s base at Delamont which is used to deliver a variety of outdoor purists courses.

Several years ago, the building was earmarked for closure as part of a rationalisation of outdoor youth provision, but it secured a reprieve as a result of pressure from local politicians.

Cllr Burgess believes there are opportunities for the local council and the Education Authority to work in partnership in key areas to help transform Delamont.

“There is so much that could be done and, like many others, I am looking forward to seeing the detail of the development blueprint when it is published,” he continued.

“There is a small harbour area located at the Island Road adjacent to the county park which the council is responsible for. Upgrading this facility would further enhance what Delamont has to offer.”

Cllr Burgess said while the 200-acre country park already attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year, it had the capacity to do much more.

The park already boasts a hugely popular miniature railway, cafe and stunning walks but the Rowallane politician said it should be offering so much more.

“I am aware of various ideas which have been suggested which include a pitch and putt course, bowling green, water sports facility, dedicated camping site and disc golf and a venue for outdoor concerts.

“While the various ideas have merit, it is important that nothing is done which would have a negative impact on the aesthetics of the country park.”

Cllr Burgess said it was clear from his discussions with council officials that they were committed to enhancing what Delamont has to offer to help attract even more visitors to what he described as a “stunning facility” which is already used to host a number of international events, including the annual Skiffies Festival.

He added: “Delamont is a jewel in our tourism crown. It has been really successful since it opened but it offers unlimited potential and there is so much more that it could offer.”