Community bid to halt church’s sale of Crossgar centre

Community bid to halt church’s sale of Crossgar centre

4 September 2019

CHURCH officials in Crossgar are being asked to abort plans to sell a building and consider donating it to local people instead.

The community centre in Downpatrick Street — which was a former pub — was purchased two decades ago but is now on the market for sale as a commercial unit.

Representatives of the Church of the Immaculate Conception and St Joseph are planning to meet with community representatives to explain the reasons for the sale which are understood to centre around increased running costs and reduced numbers of people using the facility.

Community officials have expressed an interest in working with Newry, Mourne and Down Council to take over the running of the building, if agreement could be reached to donate it to the people of Crossgar.

They believe that the building offers major potential and could be developed to provide a range of services to meet the needs of a wide range of cross-community groups in the village.

Community representatives want the meeting with church officials to be open to local 

people, arguing that a lot of public money has already been invested in the property over recent years which is used by the Crossgar Youth League among others.

“The building could be transformed into a modern community centre with the right investment and commitment. There is a parking area at the rear with spaces for around 60 vehicles and if these are lost what happens, especially during the summer months when the village’s popular Youth League is in full flow,” said one community official.

“Local people have been using the property for around 20 years and we would very much like church officials to consider donating it to them so they can take it over and work with others to manage the running costs.”

Community officials say there was a need for a dedicated indoor community facility in Crossgar which would meet the needs of many groups and organisations. 

The added “plans for a major new sports complex unveiled a number of years never came to fruition and were unlikely to in the future”.

Officials believe that if the Downpatrick Street building was donated to the people of the village, its future as a community base could potentially be guaranteed.

Community officials insist that one of their key priorities is looking after Crossgar Youth League which continues to go from strength to strength and also uses the car park at the rear of the building to store equipment.

“It is no one’s fault that the Downpatrick Street building is being sold. If there are concerns around its running costs why doesn’t the parish come and talk to us and give us the opportunity to work alongside others and take it over?” suggested one community official.

“There was a major push to open this building many years ago and a lot of public money was  invested in it. The property is critical to the success of the Crossgar Youth League and is an enormous community benefit. It is the best thing we have in the village.

“The loss of the building would have an enormous impact on the Youth League and indeed the Crossgar community. There is potential to do so much with the property and we hope it is not lost to the people of the village. We are asking for an opportunity to let us try and maximise its value to Crossgar.”