New community centre is agreed for Clarawood
Residents of the Clarawood Estate are finally set to get their own community centre after a five-year wait.
The Clarawood Community Association, with the help of Belfast City Council (BCC) and the Belfast Education and Library Board (BELB), plan to turn the Anne Napier Centre on Knockwood Crescent into a fully-fledged community centre.
The move follows an agreement between the three bodies that will see the council lease the building from BELB. The community group will then lease the building from the council.
Speaking to The CT, Lee Gould, secretary of Clarawood Community Association, said: “The lease has been active since the start of July, so plans are now being put into place to get the community centre up and running.
“However, after five years the news that an agreement has been reached has come as a bit of an anti-climax.
“The fact that the situation has dragged on so long has also affected enthusiasm in the area, which has waned since we held our first public meeting many years ago.
“At the start of the process, we were distributing regular flyers, advertising what was coming up, but we haven’t been doing this in recent years.”
Lee hopes that now the centre, which shares premises with Clarawood Special School, will be able to make the most of the vast space open to it.
He added: “The next step is to hold another public meeting, to get a feeling for what exactly people from the area want from the centre.
“We want to make sure that all sections of the community are well represented.”
The community group hope to get many activities up and running by the end of september.
And based on original public interest, activities including keep fit, mothers and toddlers, bowls, football and some educational courses are expected to be high on the agenda.
Lee added: “We were given permission from the BELB to run a youth club twice a week.
“We also hope to extend
this and get as many kids and the entire community involved as possible.”
A spokesman for the BELB said: “The board has been working with Clarawood Community Association towards this agreement.
“Clarawood Community Association, in partnership with the BELB and BCC, can now provide enhanced youth and community provision to help meet the needs of the local community.”
A council spokesperson said: “We can confirm that a license agreement is current between BCC and BELB in regard to usage of the ‘Anne Napier Centre’.
“A sub-licence agreement is current between BCC and Clarawood Community Association in regard to use of this building."