Ballynahinch town park proposals unveiled

Ballynahinch town park proposals unveiled

16 November 2011 - by JOANNE FLEMING

DETAILS of a £600,000 project to breathe new life into Ballynahinch’s Lough Park were unveiled at Down Council on Monday.

Community allotments, playing fields, walkways and viewing platforms were among the ideas presented to a Recreation Committee meeting by representatives from the Loughside Community Association.

The underused open grassland area borders the rear of Ballynahinch Community Centre and the Loughside Drive and Windmill Housing areas of the town.

The plans have been drawn up by environmental charity Groundwork NI as part of a £3m EU funded Sharing Our Space initiative, which aims to support communities tackling local division and tensions.

Councillors heard that one of the pitches would be a full size soccer pitch, and the other a small informal pitch, which would be constructed after improving drainage and upgrading pathways in the area.

A community orchard, a raised picnic area and a possible island and water area for wildfowl habitat are other ideas also being considered.

Consultation with the Ballynahinch community is due to get underway in March, with the council expected to enter into a lease agreement for the land at a later date.

Councillor Stephen Burns described the project as a “wonderful” concept.

“We are a long way off a lease agreement but it is important we make a commitment to this project,” he said.

Describing it as an “exciting project”, councillor Willie Clarke said he imagined the benefits of the development stretching beyond the Ballynahinch, Spa and Drumaness areas.

“I can see this being a big tourist attraction and people coming to spend the day here,” he said.

Downpatrick councillor Colin McGrath added: “This is an exciting development on land that is underused. I am totally jealous.”

Councillor Mickey Coogan said the project would not restrict the future of the community centre site and was a way of dealing with a number of long running problems in the area.

“There will be genuine cross community activities,” he said.