Plans ramp up for Banbridge urban sports facility

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An application to construct a purpose-built outdoor urban sports facility in Solitude Park, Banbridge was approved at a meeting of Council’s Planning Committee on 6 July 2017.

This long-awaited and exciting new project – the first of its kind to be provided in the borough and one of only three outdoor urban sports facilities in Northern Ireland – is now ready to get off the ground much to the delight of local supporters including young urban sports enthusiasts who lobbied the former council and demonstrated high demand for such a facility as far back as 2014.

With work due to commence in late October and complete by the end of this year, the new facility will be a welcome addition to Solitude Park which has benefitted from significant investment in recent years.

The children’s play area was refurbished last year at a cost of £300,000, a new outdoor gym was installed in 2013 with funding provided by the Public Health Agency and a £1.75m park enhancement scheme was completed in 2009, providing many stunning features including an amphitheatre-styled events arena, a set of canoe steps, ultra-modern toilet facilities, a Park Rangers’ office, a riverside walk and a sculpture trail.

Located next to the amphitheatre, the 490m2 facility will sit within its own enclosure and offer features such as raised banks and curbs, metal rails, a pocket corner and a wallie penny – appealing to those interested in skateboarding, BMX and in-line skating.

Lord Mayor, Alderman Gareth Wilson welcomed the Planning Committee’s decision, commenting: “It’s very satisfying to see this project become a reality as it’s been a long time in the making. I commend the council officers who have worked hard to overcome many obstacles so that young people in the local area can have what they so rightly deserve – a safe and spacious area within a picturesque parkland setting where they can pursue their passion for urban sports as well as hang out and socialise with friends.

This new facility will ensure that Solitude Park, like our other parks in the borough, are well-used environmental assets and much-valued leisure and recreational facilities. In a time when childhood obesity is still a major public health concern, I am fully supportive of projects that can make a real difference to keeping young people active and healthy.”

This project, which has received strong backing from the local community and is being delivered at a cost of £122,500, represents another sound council investment in creating more opportunities for young people to enjoy outdoor recreation.

The council appreciates the involvement of local urban sports group, Precision, who contributed to this project from an early stage and hopes its members will be delighted to have achieved their goal of seeing Banbridge get its own dedicated urban sports facility.

The facility has been designed by McAvoy Construction LLP in association with Sprain Linn Ltd and overseen by Andreas Bast of X-MOVE GmbH.

The council announced plans as recent as last week to invest £2.4m in extending and refurbishing Dromore Community Centre – another positive statement of its intent to ensure the borough offers the best examples of both indoor and outdoor leisure provision in the province.