Council urged to consider disability sports project for Ballyclare site

Alderman John Blair.
Alderman John Blair.

Alliance Party Alderman John Blair has called on the council to look at the possibility of building a world class centre of excellence for disabled sport on land at Hillhead Road outside Ballyclare.

Speaking during October’s Development Committee meeting, he claimed the local authority’s current plans for the 17-acre site amount to “a few football pitches and a dozen caravan spaces.” And he called for officers to come up with “something bigger, braver and better than what has been put forward already.”

Alderman Blair informed members that he has already raised the issue with members and officers of the new Antrim and Newtownabbey District Council.

The Glengormley man said that developing sporting facilities of “national or international significance” at the site would “put this area on the map.”

He requested that Newtownabbey Council’s sports development staff - who have the expertise in promoting sport in the borough - be included in any future discussions about the site.

Speaking after the meeting, he commented: “The current scheme should be looked at with a view to disabled sports provision.

“I suggested that provision of a national or international disabled sports centre of training/excellence could put the area and the facility on the map.

“I have heard suggestions of sports fields and caravan parks for the Hillhead Road site and whilst I have no problem with the former, to facilitate sports provision for Ballyclare - despite the site’s distance from many residential areas of the town and the fact that some outdoor sports provision could probably be accommodated at Sixmile Leisure Centre/Park - I believe this site offers possibilities for something of significance to a wider user base.”

Responding to Alderman Blair’s comments, a council spokesperson said: “The council is exploring options for the 17.25 acres of land it owns land on the Hillhead Road, Ballyclare.

“For any major project to go ahead significant external funding would need to be available.”