Ards Borough Council has agreed a £3.6 million plan to create state-of-the-art sporting facilities at Londonderry Park in Newtownards, including a partly covered arena suitable for intermediate football.
The proposal will bring two ‘third generation’ or ‘3G’ soccer pitches to Londonderry Park, a contemporary sand-based hockey pitch and a new cricket square, as well as a 70m x 30m training area and improvements to existing grass pitches, floodlighting and carparking.
The partly covered, seated arena is to be built to a standard which could accommodate the currently ‘homeless’ Ards Football Club, although the entire development has its base in enhancing the park for the community as a whole.
“Londonderry Park is already well-used by the local community and we have football, hockey, cricket and bowling clubs as well as runners, walkers and families who enjoy the green open space and the play area,” said the Mayor of Ards, Councillor Jim Fletcher.
“This new investment has its roots in the community and in making improvements which will have a significant and very broad impact across the board.
“The development of an arena is, of course, an additional benefit and would meet the needs of Ards FC.”
The news brings the council’s total planned investment in leisure and community facilities close to £30m in the coming years.
Chairman of the council services committee, Councillor Colville Elliott, said: “The council has already agreed to spend over £20m developing a new leisure centre at Dairy Hall in Newtownards, with a further £3m set aside to fund new community centres and close to £1m earmarked for the refurbishment of play areas.
“This latest announcement for Londonderry Park makes a significant contribution to ensuring that the people of Ards have access to first class leisure and sporting opportunities.”
An application to part-fund the Londonderry Park development will be made to an upcoming Sport NI ‘Places For Sport (Surfaces) Programme’ later this year and, if successful, the council would expect to begin work on the project as soon as possible thereafter.