A vision for Ballygowan’s future has been laid out in a new village plan.
Launched on Monday 9 September, the new plan identifies a range of projects to improve village life, from enhancing community and youth facilities to boosting enterprise and investment in the local economy.
Developed by the local community association, with funding from the Down Rural Area Partnership (DRAP) and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the plan also received support from Ards Borough Council and County Down Rural Community Network. The plan took shape following an extensive period of local consultation which included a household survey, a model building day by local P7 children, and a Planning for Real public open day in May.
Sean Hughes, Chairman of Ballygowan and District Community Association, said: ‘It was great to see so many residents from Ballygowan getting involved with the activities on the night. It is now the responsibility of the statutory agencies, Ards Borough Council, elected representatives and the community association (in conjunction with residents’ support) to take these ideas, nurture them and make sure that they come to fruition.
“Ballygowan is a village bordering on decline, and with the future of key services and further development of the village uncertain in the current economic climate, we need to take charge and regenerate our own village.
“With the enthusiasm shown on Monday night we can turn Ballygowan around to become a thriving community and an inspiration for other villages to follow”.
To help the Association on its way, in October 2012 Ballygowan and District Community Association were awarded funding of £6,600 under Measure 3.5 Village Renewal and Development of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 and from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s Rural Regeneration Funding 2012-2013.
Mayor of Ards Borough Council, Councillor Stephen McIlveen, paid tribute to the local community association and the community as a whole and added: “The community’s enthusiastic response to the call to action during the consultation process and the community association’s commitment to the development of a plan which has at its heart, the betterment of their village, deserves to be commended and congratulated”.
Also speaking at the event Councillor Trevor Cummings, Chairman of the Council’s Development Committee, said: “No-one is better placed than the people who live and work in an area to identify issues and concerns, to highlight possible improvement and to comment on weaknesses in services or facilities.
“Conversely, the same people know where the strengths lie and how to build on them. That is exactly what has happened here in Ballygowan through the village planning process and I look forward to the plan’s implementation and to seeing the tangible results in the years to come”.
Anyone who would like further information or a copy of the new Village Development Plan should contact the Village Renewal Support Officer on 028 9182 4026 or visit the website at www.ballygowan.org.uk