A long-awaited and highly anticipated capital project led by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council gathered momentum this week when construction work to provide a brand new purpose-built urban sports facility in Solitude Park, Banbridge finally got underway.
Due to open in April and set to become one of only three such outdoor skate parks in Northern Ireland, the new urban sports facility is expected to be an extremely popular leisure and recreational asset given the high level of interest and strong support shown by the local community in bringing this project to fruition.
Welcoming the construction phase, Lord Mayor Alderman Gareth Wilson said: “This project has been in the pipeline for many years now and despite encountering a few setbacks along the way, I am delighted to see it moving forward and reaching this stage.
Uniquely designed following consultation with local urban sports enthusiasts, I am confident that it will enhance the park’s leisure offering much to the delight of the growing number of young people who have embraced the urban sports culture and lifestyle.
As a council, we aim to support our young people in pursuing active, healthy lifestyles and this new facility will certainly achieve that goal while at the same time bestowing community benefits beyond physical activity.
In addition to being a cross-community attraction, it will provide opportunities for young people to make new friends and improve their social circle while enjoying a new leisure pursuit.
A well-designed urban sports facility can become a dynamic community gathering space that can serve action sports athletes who can safely exercise their passions, as well as observers who are intrigued by the skill and technique involved in such a creative art form.
I am looking forward to seeing the completed facility become a well-utilised and much valued recreational space in Solitude Park.”
Located next to the amphitheatre, the 490m2 facility will sit within its own enclosure and will consist of a variety of features such as raised banks and curbs, metal rails, a pocket corner and a wallie penny.
There will be two levels with a pocket corner and curved bank at opposite ends. The higher central level will have banks on the sides with London gap ledges and a wallie penny.
Opposite to this level there will be a bank hip and table top. A large area of slab allows room for beginners to practice their “ollies” and to grind on the flat rails and ledges.
Moreover, it will be able to accommodate a broad diversity of skaters, BMXers and inline skaters – enabling advanced skaters to be challenged and beginners to develop their skills.
Built at a cost of £250,000, the facility has been designed by Spraoi Linn Ltd and manufactured by leading German company X-Move in conjunction with principal design and build contractor, McAvoy Construction (NI) Ltd.
To ensure the safety of park users throughout the duration of works, members of the public are advised that access in and around the site of the new urban sports facility will be limited with a number of diversions in place.