New £500k centre in pipeline for Aghagallon

An architect impression of what the proposed new Community Centre in Aghagallon may look like
An architect impression of what the proposed new Community Centre in Aghagallon may look like

AGHAGLLON Community Association has secured more than £0.5m in funding for a new village centre.

The new state-of-the-art community centre is to get £250,000 cash from SOAR, part of the Rural Development Programme while the Diocese of Down and Connor is to match that funding.

The project is expected to cost around £550k and architects are working to build a centre within that budget.

Currently the community centre, next to St Patrick’s Primary School is ‘not fit for purpose’, according to SDLP Councillor Joe Nelson. The new project is still in the planning stage.

Cllr Nelson, who belongs to the community association and a member of the parish council, explained that Aghagallon is in dire need of a community hub.

The two organisations have united to form the Aghagallon Community Association Ltd, to seek funding and drive the project.

The new centre will replace the existing parish centre which had been built at the turn of the 19th century and is owned by the Diocese of Down and Connor.

It will include a 24 place pre-school playgroup, a multipurpose hall and a cafe which will be run as a business by the community association.

“Anything that replaces the existing building is certainly worthwhile doing,” said Cllr Nelson.

He explained there would be an opportunity to run a myriad of activities, including an after-school club, yoga classes, events and clubs for the older generation as well as a venue for the local bowling club.

Cllr Nelson said the local GAA had expressed an interest in using it as a training venue and there could be a variety of sports clubs who could use the hall.

“The village has always been lost for a focal point. The community association when it was formed did a community survey and one of the things we got out of that survey was that we had a hall which was inadequate.

“The centre would help to revitalise the whole village and surrounding areas.

“There will also be opportunities for outreach services from health and social services, there will be opportunities for subsidised meals for pensioners and for adult education.

“And of course with a substantial hall for aerobics, yoga and other classes. The Youth Club would also operate from it.

“It’s a big, exciting project for the community here because we have been lost over the years,” said Cllr Nelson.

“This could be beneficial in the future with the development of the Lagan Canal,” he added.