£1.7million to be invested in capital projects

Thursday, 1 December 2016

FUNDING allocations for a number of capital projects across the Strabane district, including plans to advance a new £1.3 million multi-sport 3G pitch for the town, have been given the go ahead.

Yesterday afternoon (Tuesday), members of Derry City and Strabane District Council's Governance and Strategic Planning Committee met to approve the capital funding to advance several high profile projects in a council-wide investment totalling £1.786m.

In total, 19 projects are set to benefit. Locally these include new sporting sites/pitches for Artigarvan and Sion Mills, play areas, a 'Shared Space' project in Castlederg, plans for a masterplan for the future use of the old Carricklee refuse site and the development of Melvin 3G pitch.

The funding is expected to be ratified at next month's full council meeting. The council has set aside £17,000 to advance design plans and a renewed planning application for Artigarvan sports pitch whilst £10,000 has been given over to a scoping exercise at a school site for sporting provision in Sion.

A play area in Killen has been allocated £9,800 to address health and safety issues and a further £21,000 has been passed for a new play area project in the Fountain Street area of Strabane.

There was also welcome news for Castlederg with the allocation of £20,000 to progress the design of connecting greenways between council-owned lands at Castlederg Castle to St Eugene's GAA and Dergview Football Club grounds in an ambitious 'Shared Space' initiative.

Councillors also agreed plans to move forward the £1.345m third generation pitch facility at Melvin to tender and construction phase.

The project, one of the former Strabane District Council's legacy projects, is jointly funded by the Department for Communities (£600,000) and the council (£745,000).


'Welcome boost'

News of its advancement is a welcome boost for local sporting clubs who have long campaigned for better sports pitch provision. Recurring vandalism at pitches used by some clubs, particularly 'The Meadows', has often rendered them unplayable, whilst two years ago Strabane Athletic FC were forced to play a cup game away from home due to the lack of an adequate pitch.

Speaking after councillors approved the next phase of the Melvin project, Strabane Sinn Féin representative, Brian McMahon, explained that the plans will see the replacement of the existing sand-based synthetic and natural grass pitch with a new third generation multi-sport pitch along with other upgrading work including new lighting.

"This upgrade brings it up to the requisite standard capable of hosting competitive games in sports such as soccer, Gaelic and rugby," he said. "This will bring to fruition one of the key legacy projects of the former Strabane District Council which was particularly championed by former party councillor, Jay McCauley who, along with the rest of the Sinn Fein grouping, have been working hard for this provision as a solution to addressing the long-standing problems of our local soccer and rugby clubs frequently not being able to secure a playable pitch, often because of vandalism, and not having a pitch of adequate standard capable of hosting competitive games

"The lack of such a facility was amply illustrated in January 2014 when Strabane Athletic were drawn at home to Ballinamallard in the Irish Cup but had to play the fixture away from home because no local pitch was of adequate standard.

"This 3G facility will therefore cater for the pressing needs of our local sporting clubs and along with the recent £2.2 million upgrade to facilities at Melvin also adds greatly to the excellent facilities available to our local schools and wider community in the district."


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