Public meeting hears of support for centre

Public meeting hears of support for centre

28 November 2012

THE majority of people who attended a public meeting in Newcastle last week to discuss plans for a new leisure centre in the resort, want Down Council to progress the issue.

The meeting was organised by Sinn Fein, with councillor Willie Clarke explaining a broad range of views were aired in relation to the location of the new multi-million pound facility.

He said concerns were also expressed about the visual impact the building would have on the Donard Park area. Down Council has identified an existing football pitch at Donard Park as a potential base for the new centre and its officials are also investigating the possible purchase of the former St. Mary’s Girls’ Primary School site at Shanslieve Drive.

Councillor Clarke said a member of the Tullybrannigan Residents’ Association expressed concerns about possible water displacement into Tullybrannigan once the new leisure centre is built during last week’s meeting.

“The vast majority of people at the meeting wanted

the leisure centre developed and recognise the urgency that faces Down Council to prepare and submit a planning application,” he continued.

“The former primary school site is on the open market and council officers will now have discussions with planners about what development is appropriate at this location, given the close proximity of homes and flood plain restrictions.”

Councillor Clarke believes there will be planning difficulties with this site, but would welcome its purchase — at a reasonable price — as a replacement 3G sports pitch, arguing it would enhance facilities in Donard Park.

He added: “Having an indoor leisure centre/swimming facility including a play pool in Donard Park will provide a great boost for tourism and the new centre could become an iconic visitor attraction in its own right and be a magnate for tourists. It would also be a gateway centre to the Mournes.”