£1.5m proposal for Lord Lurgan Park

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A NEW £1.5m development of Lord Lurgan Park has been proposed by Craigavon Borough Council.

The project has been submitted to the Social Investment Fund with community consultation in the pipeline.

A project for Lord Lurgan Park has been in the offing from 2007 with proposals to replace the Portacabin changing provision with an integrated changing facility which could also provide a community meeting arena. Improved parking, landscaping and lighting was also proposed.

However, the plans were scuppered in 2008 when, according to the Council, ‘funding became less likely’ and officers concentrated on other Neighbourhood Renewal provision in Lurgan.

Recently there had been an appraisal of North Lurgan Community Centre and groups had raised the possibility of developing the park.

According to the council, the community groups believed the expansion of the population in the north Lurgan area and its catchment area would mean the Lord Lurgan park site would attract more users from the Shankill and Wakehurst areas.

The appraisal of North Lurgan Community Centre was ‘due to the fact the centre was very much in demand and that opportunities for capital investment in community facilities within the North Lurgan area were limited, particularly given the high demand for housing and lack of space’.

The council had also been contacted by the Department of Social Development regarding refurbishing the centre with funding opportunities from the Social Investment Fund. A firm called Venturei were appointed last September to undertake the updated appraisal and had undertaken consultation with local community groups.

To ensure a project for the park site would be considered, the council submitted a’ speculative proposal’ to the Social Investment Fund.

“It was envisaged that the capital cost of the project would be between £1.2 - £1.5 million but these were estimated costs at this stage and full detailed costs would be supplied in due course,” according to the council.

The council are using in-house resources to provide information such as drawings, costings, outline planning permission and other information required by the SIF.

DUP Alderman Gladys McCullough said she was disappointed that the projects from Council were ones outside of Neighbourhood Renewal Areas. The Head of Community Development said that other factors had to be looked at such as planning permission, approved drawings, and what SIF’s requirements were, before a capital project could go ahead.

The Head of Community Development explained that projects were not always at the stage where they were ready to start due to funding not always being available.

Sinn Fein Councillor Mark O’Dowd said he was happy to propose the recommendation, but it was to be kept in mind that Neighbourhood Renewal money was meant to be additional money to council spend, not alternative spend.

The Director explained that it may be worthwhile investing resources in preparing projects so that if funding became available Council would be eligible to apply for it.

Alderman Anderson said work needed to be done to highlight projects so that if funding became available at short notice, it could be availed of. The Director confirmed this would be undertaken.

Councillor O’Dowd proposed and Sinn Fein Cllr Paul Duffy, that Council approval be given to proceed with the speculative proposal in relation to community/leisure facilities in the Lord Lurgan Memorial Park.