Work begins on state-of-the-art park facilities

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The £3.9 million Valley Park shared space project has got underway with the cutting of the first sod on the site planned for today (Thursday).

The ceremony to mark the start of construction on the project was due to be attended by Minister for Social Development Mervyn Storey and local elected representatives.

A Director from the Special EU Programmes Body’s (SEUPB) Joint Technical Secretariat, which is co-funding the project with Newtownabbey Borough Council, was also due to be present.

The Voices from the Valley project will transform the existing park’s 2.2 acres of under-used space into a civic linear park and an adventure play park.

New state-of-the-art sports facilities, including a floodlit 3G pitch suitable for football, rugby and Gaelic games will also be constructed.

The 3G pitch has been specifically designed to encourage usage by schools from both sides of the community, in order to create new opportunities for cross-community engagement.

The designs for the new facilities were developped in conjunction with local residents through a survey, workshops with children and young people and consultation with local schools, community groups, sports clubs and residents.

Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Social Development Minister, Mervyn Storey stated: “The ‘Voices from the Valley Park’ project will truly transform this greenfield site into a shared space that will provide a platform for interaction through sport, play and leisure opportunities. 

“It will create a sense of ownership for all communities, a place that everyone values and benefits from; a place that is about the future and forging new and productive relationships.”

Mayor of Newtownabbey, Alderman Thomas Hogg added: “The new state of the art facilities are due to be completed by July 2015 and will enhance sporting and community development for residents and visitors alike for many years to come.

“There has been fantastic community interest in this scheme to date and we look forward with great excitement to the opening next year.”

Chairperson of the Valley Park Shared Space Interagency Group councillor Billy Webb commented: “Community relations in the areas surrounding the Valley Park have at times been difficult but now thanks to this huge investment from SEUPB and the Council there is an opportunity for these communities to address these problems and share a space which caters for all generations in a positive way.

“From the outset community engagement with the project as a whole has been used by the Council to ensure the ultimate success of the project and ownership by the community.

“I know that the interagency group will continue to lead the way in ensuring that community needs are central to creating this transformation of the Park and in turn the transformation of community relationships and all the benefits this will bring.”

Funding for the project was granted by SEUPB through the Peace III Programme after money was reallocated from the the shelved Maze Peace Centre plan.

Commenting on the project, SEUPB Chief Executive Pat Colgan, whose organisation manages the PEACE III Programme, said: “This shared space project has been designed to encourage people from all backgrounds to come together and learn from each other through an interest in sport, recreation and arts based activities.

“Upon completion it is hoped that the project will encourage forging of many local positive relationships.”

Webb commented: “Community relations in the areas surrounding the Valley Park have at times been difficult but now thanks to this huge investment from SEUPB and the Council there is an opportunity for these communities to address these problems and share a space

which caters for all genera-tions in a positive way.

“From the outset com-munity engagement with the project as a whole has been used by the Council to ensure the ultimate success of the project and ownership by the community.

“I know that the interagency group will continue to lead the way in ensuring that community needs are cen-tral to creating this trans-formation of the Park and in turn the transformation of community relationships and all the benefits this will bring.”

Funding for the project was granted b y SEUPB through the Peace III Pro-gramme after money was reallocated from the shelved Maze Peace Centre

plan.

Commenting on the project, SEUPB Chief Execu-tive Pat Colgan, whose organ-isation manages the PEACE III Programme, said: “This shared space project has been designed to encourage people from all backgrounds to come together and learn from each other through an interest in sport, recreation and arts based activities. “Upon completion it is hoped that the project will encourage forging of many local positive relationships.”