STRANGFORD MLA Simon Hamilton (DUP) has welcomed the decision to grant £50,000 in funding to the construction of a new children’s play park in the Langley Road Estate playing fields in Ballynahinch.
The funding comes from the Landfill Communities Fund administered in the Down District area by the Ulster Wildlife Trust and the play park will be maintained by Down District Council.
A decision was made at the Council Recreation Committee yesterday (19 November) to approve the funding.
Commenting, Simon Hamilton said: “This is great news for Ballynahinch and the Langley Road Estate in particular. Just over two years ago, I attended the inaugural meeting of the Langley Road Community Group. It was clear at that meeting that a new play park in the Estate for young children was something that residents were really keen on. The existing play park had seen better days and the equipment wasn’t age appropriate for toddlers and young children. I and other DUP colleagues vowed to do all that we could to make that ambition a reality.
“Since that time, myself, Jim Shannon MP and Councillorr Garth Craig have been working hard alongside the Langley Group to source funding, complete application forms and work with other stakeholders to develop the idea and I’m so pleased that our efforts were successful.
“The children of the Langley Road and surrounding area can now look forward to a modern, state-of-the-art play park where they can play safely and their parents can come together as a community.
“I want to congratulate the Langley Road Community Group for their commitment to making this dream a reality and also to the funders and Down District Council without whom this would never have happened.
“It is really good to be delivering on our pledges to improve community infrastructure in Ballynahinch and I look forward to continuing to contribute to more positive change for the town”.
Down District Councillor Garth Craig speaking before the Recreation Committee meting said: “This is a good news story. ENTRUST is the body who check that the project meets all the social and environmental criteria for landfill community funding and they have already confirmed approval of £50K funding towards the new play park.
“The project will hopefully be ratified at this afternoon’s meeting and Council will be asked to manage the work on site and undertake future maintenance. I am delighted that the project has reached this stage and look forward to the final pieces of the jigsaw being put in place this afternoon. The existing play ground equipment is generally in a very poor state of disrepair and is unsuitable for very young children. The new play park will address a specific need in the three to ten age bracket.
“This project will help to regenerate the area and give local people a pride in their estate. The new play park will look so much more appealing than the present run-down looking facility. Another benefit to the local community will be that youth volunteers aged between 16 and 25 will be involved in its construction.”
Andrew Steenson, Chairman of the Langley Road Community Group, said: “I am delighted that we have been successful in this funding application. This work to update the the playpark is long overdue and having consulted with the local residents on this they are very much looking forward to a state-of-the-art playpark on their doorstep for all the children to enjoy. The Group is concentrating on projects like this and we hope in the future to achieve much more to improve life on the estate. There is still much to be done to upgrade the playing field area, but we are looking at that issue in the longer term. I would just like to thank all of the public representatives and Council for their support over the last year in shaping up the project.”
Councillor Billy Walker speaking at the Down District Council Recreation Committee meeting said: “This shows what can be done with community involvement working in partnership with local authorities and agencies. This idea firmed up two years ago and the Langley Group worked with Council officers on it. I would like to thank the Council officers for all their help moving this project on and in securing the funding.”
The project was also applauded at the meeting by Councillor Terry Andrews who said: “This certainly sends out a clear message what can be done with good community effort. And Councillor Willie Clarke added that “It is essential to have good community involvement with proactive groups such as this building good relations in our community.”