Public have say on £2.2m Threemilewater sports centre plan

The proposed layout of the new community sports facility at Threemilewater.
The proposed layout of the new community sports facility at Threemilewater.

Members of the public have had their say on plans for a major new community sports facility development near Monkstown.

Dozens of people, many representing local sports clubs and youth organisations, gathered at Mossley Mill on Wednesday, December 9 to discuss the proposed £2.2million project.

The joint venture between Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and Crusaders Football Club could see the redevelopment of a large area of the council-owned Threemilewater Playing Fields.

The north Belfast club is hoping to secure funding to create what it describes as a “Grassroots and Women’s Sports Complex” on the existing shale pitches at Bridge Road.

Proposals for the seven-acre site include the construction of a main floodlit 3G pitch, new changing/medical facilities and multi-use games areas.

Planning permission for the ambitious project, which has been endorsed by well known local ex-Irish League players Mark Glendinning and Steven Livingstone, was granted in August this year. Since then, Crusaders FC has been consulting with interested parties - youth groups, sports clubs, schools, community groups and local residents - about the plans.

Speaking to the Times after last week’s public meeting, Crusaders director Mark Langhammer said: “The consultation exercise has been very positive and has allowed us to speak with a range of groups who potentially may be interested in getting involved as partners or as bookers. These include 18th Newtownabbey Youth (Monkstown), Ballyduff FC, FC Whiteabbey, Rathfern Rangers, the IFA’s Club NI Elite squads, Carnmoney Ladies, Carnmoney Football Development Centre, Newtownabbey Kickers, Monkstown Boxing Club and others. Provision for Abbey Community College and its feeder primary schools will be central to the offer. Newtownabbey Strikers and Crusaders Football Development Centre will also be key users.”

He continued: “The scheme will now go forward first to the council who will consider the full Consultation report, and then to the DCAL Sub-regional Stadia funding call.

“Strand 5 of the DCAL call, also currently under consultation, provides for a single quality grassroots and junior facility, so we, with the council and the project partners, are facing a very competitive process. However, I believe that, together, the Threemilewater scheme is well founded, realistic and will be hard to match.”

It’s understood further meetings are due to take place with local residents to discuss concerns about traffic management and parking issues.

Mr Langhammer added: “The meeting and consultees responded well to deepening local ownership through a User Management Board and it became clear that local ‘ownership’ was critical to the success of the project.

“We have follow-up meetings to undertake with athletics groups, angling interests as well as local residents on traffic management and parking issues - all issues which can be overcome, with goodwill and fair wind.”

• Read related article - Crusaders get green light to progress Threemilewater plan