£0.7M extension plan for Rathfern facility agreed

Rathfern Community Centre. Archive pic.
Rathfern Community Centre. Archive pic.

Rathfern Community Centre is in line for an extensive upgrade after Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council agreed to provide funding for the project.

Elected members backed a proposal to allocate an initial £715,000 to support the scheme at the Knockenagh Avenue facility.

The current bookable space comprises a training room, dance studio, main hall and boardroom.

The programme of works would result in an additional 371 sqm, encompassing two large activity rooms (second dance hall and a youth club facility), a disabled toilet, three female toilets, a male toilet and two urinals, new and extended storage, the removal of the MUGA pitch and a 17-space car park.

Since June 2013, Rathfern Community Centre has operated under a service management agreement with Rathfern Regeneration Group, meaning the council owns and maintains the building and the group operates the centre, managing bookings and volunteers.

The local authority currently provides an annual grant of £5,000 to the group to help run the centre and the latter retains any income generated.

Commenting on the item, an Antrim and Newtownabbey Council spokesperson said: “Members are advised that this cost is only approximate as it will have to be costed via more detailed design work and a procurement process, the results of which will be brought back to council for an investment decision at a later date.”

Alliance Cllr Billy Webb proposed that the option be progressed. This was seconded by Cllr Phillip Brett (DUP).