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Additional £123,000 in funding allocated to Melvin 3G pitch plans

Thursday, 6 April 2017

COUNCILLORS have rubber-stamped plans to provide additional funding to enhance the planned provision of a multi-sport pitch in Strabane.

The project, which will see the creation of a 3G astro-turf facility on the site of the existing 2G synthetic pitch at Melvin, is one of the former Strabane District Council's legacy projects and is jointly funded by the Department for Communities and the council.

Yesterday afternoon (Tuesday), members of Derry City and Strabane District Council's Governance & Strategic Planning Committee were told changes to the design of the scheme has increased its costs.

A report tabled to councillors stated: "Council has already allocated funds of £700k for this project with a further £645k of funding secured from the Department of Communities completing the funding package for the estimated £1.345m project.

"Recent changes to the design of the new AstroTurf pitch has increased the cost of the overall project by £123k. These costs are attributed to issues such as lengthening the field slightly to improve line layout for all sporting codes, increasing the fence height behind the soccer goals and adding a number of pedestrian gates for ball retrieval.

"It is therefore necessary to increase councils' funding allocation by this sum bringing council's total funding allocation to £823k and enabling the project to progress to tender."

Councillors were also told that officers are working with local running, boxing and soccer clubs on upgrade proposals for the Arena Pitch also situated within the grounds of Melvin Sports Complex.

"This project provides an excellent opportunity for council to avail of considerable Sport NI monies allocated for multi-sport provision and development," the report added, with a more detailed update to be provided following consideration by the Capital Projects and Corporate Programme Planning Group.

Strabane Sinn Féin councillor, Brian McMahon, welcomed the committee's decision.

Speaking yesterday evening (Tuesday), he said the facility will be 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.

"It is hoped that work on the 3G upgrade will get commence in June and when completed it bring the facility up to the requisite standard capable of hosting competitive games in sports such as soccer, Gaelic and rugby and will augment further the excellent facilities at Melvin Complex following the completion of the £2.2m refurbishment in 2014," Cllr McMahon said.

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