Ten local rural communities throughout Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon turn village plans into reality thanks to nearly £2 million in funding from the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 – funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the European Union, and delivered by the Southern Organisation for Action in Rural Area (SOAR) Local Action Group.
Getting to see an example of this local revitalisation, Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Paul Greenfield along with programme delegates recently visited three successful projects in Aghacommon, Magheralin and Kinallen – that together secured just over £500,000 grant funding.
Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Paul Greenfield said:
“It was fantastic to get out to Aghacommon, Magheralin and Kinallen and see firsthand how SOAR’s Village Renewal Scheme is helping make a positive difference to borough villages and, more importantly, to the residents that live there.
“Not only helping deliver much needed facilities and services in our rural communities, these revitalisation projects also have the power to enhance and improve the health and wellbeing of our local residents and also instill a sense of pride in the place they call home.”
Local Wolfe Tones GAA Club was awarded funding of £250,000 and were able to complete the construction of a new 3G pitch and walking track, providing much needed recreational facilities in the Aghacommon community and beyond. Meanwhile in Magheralin, following an investment of over £133,000, the community are now enjoying a new sand filled soccer pitch, walking track, new seating areas, improved landscaping and fencing, serving young and old alike. Securing more than £120,000 DAERA funding from SOAR, the community in Kinallen are now the proud owners of a modernised and enhanced village centre. The project has helped put the heart back into the community with new pedestrian paving, seating areas, gateway signage and landscaping.
SOAR ABC Chair, Councillor Kyle Savage said:
“After many years of planning and hard work, the communities within Aghacommon, Magheralin and Kinallen have been able to realise their ambitious village plans thanks to the financial support from DAERA and the guidance from SOAR ABC.
“Addressing local needs and issues, these completed projects will continue to deliver in each area now, and for generations to come, enhancing the physical and mental health of local residents, encouraging investment and economic development as well as fostering civic spirit and pride.”
Welcoming the completion of the various Village Renewal Projects, DAERA Minister Edwin Poots commented:
“I am delighted that my Department was able to provide grant funding of £2 million through the Village Renewal strand of the Rural Development Programme. The various projects have greatly improved the infrastructure of the villages involved through a range of works, benefiting all those living in these rural areas.
“The improvements made in the affected villages are a great example of the collaborative working between my Department and the Local Action Group, and I am delighted that despite the many challenges brought about by the Covid-19 crisis, these projects, like many others throughout the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area, have been successfully completed. I want to thank all involved for their hard work and dedication in bringing these to fruition.”
Appointed in the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area to implement the LEADER element of the NI Rural Development Programme 2014-2022, SOAR ABC supports the local rural community by providing support through a number of programmes, namely Rural Basic Investment Scheme, Rural Basic Services Scheme, Village Renewal Scheme and Co-operation Projects.