Saintfield park approval due

Saintfield park approval due

11 May 2022

NEWRY, Mourne and Down Council’s planning committee will today be asked to formally approve  ambitious plans for a new heritage community park in Saintfield.

Local planners are recommending that the application by the Saintfield Development Association should proceed to provide the new facility close to the town’s community centre.

Land known locally as the windmill field at the Belfast Road has been earmarked for the new development.

A funding bid aimed at paving the way for the new park, which is also being financially supported by American benefactor David Moffett whose ancestors emigrated to the USA from Leggygowan, has been submitted to the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Development Association officials hope that if all the pieces in the proposed development jigsaw fall into place that the proposed town park could open in two years’ time.

The Heritage Lottery funding application includes a proposal to stabilise the three remaining stone buildings at the site of the proposed park and make them safe for future generations to visit and learn about the industrial heritage of two windmills, two watermills and railway. 

The planning application which local politicians will discuss today is seeking permission for a change of use from agricultural to amenity use for the public. 

Ahead of the meeting, it has been confirmed that all statutory consultees bar one have now given the proposal their approval for the proposed town park, with discussions with the final consultee in progress.

Association officials say the planning application covers only the paths, pond, fencing and information panels associated with the field close to the community centre.

The bid for financial support from the Heritage Fund was submitted at the end of November with officials hoping to hear soon whether or not it has been successful.

Earlier this year, the Development Association explained that if the bid is successful, it will be for the development phase of the town park project.

Officials estimate that this will take one year and include detailed measurements of the scheduled monument buildings, work plans, costings for stabilising these and obtaining scheduled monument consent and planning approval for these works. 

They have also confirmed that at the end of this development phase, a further application to the Heritage Fund would be made for the delivery phase of the project. “

The Development Association says that if this was successful and all went well, the park and windmill would be opened to the public in the spring of 2024. 

If the Heritage Fund application is unsuccessful, the Development Association will proceed with the proposal, but the work would exclude the scheduled monument area.