BALLYKINLAR has taken a major step forward by getting support from Down District Council in furthering their community area plans.
Members of Ballykinlar and Tyrella Community Association made a presentation to a special meeting of the Council Recreation Committee describing the issues they have faced and what their plans they have to turn the situation round.
Niall Addis, assistant secretary, said: “Our community association has been very busy and we have sought help from the Rural Development Programme and the NIHE to get finding for putting together our village plans. The information we gathered involved the whole community. We had a Planning for Real consultation which even involved the children in our community. There are 1345 residents in Ballykinlar, in 414 homes, and the infrastructure includes a church, a garage/shop, an empty school, a football and GAA club and an army base.
“When we asked the local people what issues they were experiencing they told us that poor lighting, derelict buildings, lack of a play park, no regular bus service, and no youth service were important matters they had to deal with.
“We meet in an empty shop, the Ballykinlar Cultural Centre, as there is no other community space. It is quite small. The Kindle Primary School was closed down a couple of years ago and we believe there is now some movement in this being available for use.
“Basically, we have identified main aims in improving the community after a household survey and have agreed a number of actions that need to be taken. Flowerbeds shall be planted around the village, street furniture will be installed, entrance features to the village will be made, and a new play facility will be set up.
“We plan to continue with our annual village clean up and we encourage dog owners to carry bags and use poop scoops. We also plan to run a youth club and a summer scheme and also activities for the elderly in our centre.
“But the main priority projects are establishing the new community centre in the old school, setting up a play park, and add public transport for the village.” explained Niall Addis.
He added: “The play park is a vital project and will create a safe, accessible environment for the children. We estimate the cost to be around £85,000 including VAT for this. We hope to get funding from the Down Rural Area Partnership, and would appreciate support from Down District Council. We are looking forward to working in partnership with the statutory agencies and the Council.”
Councillors Back Ballykinlar
Councillor Colin McGrath (SDLP) has welcomed the presentation by Ballykinler Community Association to Council of plans they have to develop their village.
He said: “The community association in Ballykinler have worked very hard to develop plans for their village and presented them recently to a special council meeting.
“There is a strong ethos of community in the village and I am delighted that they have worked together to bring their proposals to council and other organisations to seek the funding that they need.”
“Many of the requests they have are for basic community initiatives such as street furniture, play facilities and other community requirements such as community safety measures and entrance features to their village to enhance the physical appearance of their area.
“I welcome the presentation they have made to council and hope they get the support of council and other organisations that they approach for financial support.”
Councillor Dermot Curran added: “This was an excellent presentation and addresses the issues that this community is facing. The association is a role model for small rural communities and have done a lot of hard work and shown great commitment.
“This is the way forward. The vacant school is still subject to negotiations with the SEELB and we must try and enter into an agreement. I have been working with the association for some time and I am delighted that they are now making such excellent progress. “
Councillor Billy Walker (DUP) said “I would like to pay tribute to the Ballykinlar group for their efforts. I totally support their call for help to get the play park off the ground.”
Councillor Cadogan Enright (Independent) added: “Most town have play park facilities and Ballykinlar should be on the top of the list.”
Councillor Willie Clarke (Sinn Féin) said: “It is good to see that he whole community unanamously supports these ideas. They are taking a partnership approach which is good and this is an excellent model. It is great to see the community so involved even at this stage. They can take part in tree planting and the Council should lobby Translink to ensure that proper transport is set up for the community.”
Councillor Terry Andrews (Independent) said: “I am involved with three community associations and it is good to see that Ballykinlar has travelled on a long journey in making such a great effort.”
There will be no planning issues for the play park on its proposed site so it should process fairly quickly once funding is in place explained a Recreation department official, and added that once the school was occupied the management would need to be run on a community management scheme with minimum input from Council.
The Council agreed to write a letter to the Down Rural Areas Partnership acknowledging its support for the play park project to help with the release of funding.