Boost for local villages

CRAIGAVON Council have submitted an application which aims to boost local villages.

The plans have seen villages grouped into clusters and development plans submitted for each cluster.

Waringstown, Bleary and Gibson’s Hill form one cluster while Donaghcloney, Milltown and Ballynabragget make up another cluster.

Magheralin, Dollingstown and Ballymacaine have been grouped together while Derryadd and Derrymcash have also been consolidated.

A number of initiatives have been identified as potential SOAR projects and ranked in terms of priority.

Top priority projects include village entrance signs and notice boards, improvements to Wolfe Tones GAC in Derrymacash, walking trails for Waringstown and Magheralin, the provision of a multi-use games area as part of a community initiative at Waringstown Presbyterian Church and the provision of floodlights at church ruins in Magheralin.

Also marked as top priority are studies into the provision of community facilities at the Old School House in Bleary and the review of community and recreational facilities in Donaghcloney.

At a recent council meeting, councillors voted in favour of moving forward to SOAR application stage with the recommended priority A projects and initiatives.

The SDLP’s Joe Nelson said: “While I welcome the investment in the villages that have been selected, I’ve had feedback from residents of villages that have been left out. I would encourage future projects that may come forward to include these villages.”

He was told by a council officer the Village Plans were ongoing until 2020 so there was a chance of getting some of the villages who have missed including next time.

The DUP’s Mark Baxter commented: “I welcome the proposals in relation to the Village Plan especially that a feasibility study may be brought forward so as a site can be identified to house the Donaghcloney Rural Needs group.”

“Currently they have a facility but clearly there are issues around it and the building is set to be developed leaving the group without a base.”

Deputy Mayor George Savage of the UUP spoke of the importance of rural areas. “Villages are the backbone of Craigavon,” he said.

“For too long they’ve been deprived of facilities.”