New Drive in Ballynahinch to Upgrade Playing Field at Langley Road
THE Langley Road Residents’ Association made a presentation to the Recreation Committee of Down District Council on Monday evening (20 May) in a bid to win support towards a 3G pitch and new pavilion at the Langley Playing Fields.
The group was led by Andrew Steenson, Association Chairman, and Stephen Earley, Chairman of Temple FC, made the presentation to the members of the Council Committee. He said: “Basically we want to upgrade the sports’ facilties at the Langley Road playing fields. There have been continuing problems with the play area and the pavilion and the previous group also tried to address these matters.
“We have now brought together a wider forum representing all sections of the community and with people from outside the Langley estate itself and we certainly cross the religious and political divides. Our work in the estate means we are looking at issues such as improving traffic and parking and we are working with the DRD on this.
“A survey was done by the NIHE recently and it was notable that there was a sense of low self esteem by the local residents. So it is our key aim to set up an active sports’ club and instil a strong sense of community pride back into the area. Essentially the playing area consists of two grass pitches, two all weather pitches, a playground currently being upgraded, and a pavillion that has reached the end of its life and is really not fit for purpose.
“It is a large outdoor area and has great potential for development and has little restrictions. The community group has a strong track record of delivering to date on securing £53,000 for the play area upgrade, running sports days and events, child protection courses, a horse and carriage event, and we have been involved with a number of groups outside the Langley area.”
In explaining the specific aims and objectives of the group, Mr Earley said: “We have made a start with funding for the play park, and wish to develop the area for a range of other sports such as cricket, rugby, hockey, tennis bowls etc. And further, we also want to add to this a range of indoor sporting activities in the two-storey pavillion such as boxing, table tennis, darts and pool. We also want this facility to be open to the youth club who can use the facilities which will help address some of the youth issue such as boredom, antisocial behaviour etc.
“We certainly intend to encourage involvement with residents from the Ballykine area and the Drumlins Integrated Primary School.
“The two main pitches will be synthetic 3G pitches. They will be used well by local demand and will be sustainable.
“So what we are really looking for from Council is support to proceed with a feasibility study to help pull this integrated project forward. We also need a commitment on the long-term lease from Down District Council so that our applications for funding will succeed.”
Chairing the Recreation Committee, Councillor Stephen Burns said: “The Langley Esate has changed so much in the past ten years. They are now working for the whole community.”
Councillor Billy walker added that “it was tremendous how the group has moved the Langley Estate forward. You will be a key player and stakeholder in the success of this project. This Council will work with groups that will get of their backsides and try and make the difference to their communities. There is funding out there to get this done and I believe that the Langley Estate is still an area that is deprived.” Councillor Walker proposed that the group receive Council support and this was seconded by Councillor Gareth Sharvin.
Councillor Walter Lyons said: “At long last there is progress on this. People have been looking at these problems for a long time. Now the community must get involved and make this happen.”
Councillor Garth Craig said: “Work certainly needs to be done on these pitches and I welcome this initiative and would like to see action on this.”
Councillor Mickey Coogan said: “The community group now needs to take the bull by the horns and move forward with this. Council needs to support this project positively so that it succeeds.”
Councillor Willlie Clarke said: “As yet I’m not sure what your main priority is – the playing fields or the pavillion but it is a good and much needed project.”
The motion was passed that the group receive the support from Council to move forward to a feasibility study which will precede a full business case necessary to secure the funding package at a later date.