Half-pipe dream for Solitude becomes reality

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Half-pipe dream for Solitude becomes reality thumbnailThe 122,000 urban sports park planned for Solitude.

A SKATEBOARDING facility for Solitude Park in Banbridge has finally been granted planning approval.

Fans of skateboarding are 'wheely' glad that their half-pipe dream has received the backing of council.

A planning application for the purpose- built outdoor urban sports facility was first lodged back in December 2015 however it hit a few bumps in the road during the planning process.

Permission was finally approved for the skate park at last Thursday's (6 July) planning meeting.

This longawaited and exciting new project - the first of its kind to be provided in the borough and one of only three outdoor urban sports facilities in Northern Ireland - is now ready to get off the ground much to the delight of local supporters including young urban sports enthusiasts who lobbied the former council and demonstrated high demand for such a facility as far back as 2014.

With work due to start in late October and be complete by the end of this year, the new facility will be a welcome addition to Solitude Park which has benefited from significant investment in recent years.

The children's play area was refurbished last year at a cost of 300,000, a new outdoor gym was installed in 2013 with funding provided by the Public Health Agency and a 1.75m park enhancement scheme was completed in 2009, providing many stunning features including an amphitheatre-styled events arena, a set of canoe steps, ultramodern toilet facilities, a Park Rangers' office, a riverside walk and a sculpture trail.

It will be beside an existing path through Solitude Park. Earlier this year The Outlook reported that a delay had occurred when the location for the facility was found to be in a flood plain.

Located next to the amphitheatre, the 490m2 facility will sit within its own enclosure and offer features such as raised banks and curbs, metal rails, a pocket corner and a wallie penny - appealing to those interested in skateboarding, BMX and in-line skating.

Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Alderman Gareth Wilson welcomed the Planning Committee's decision, commenting: "It's very satisfying to see this project become a reality as it's been a long time in the making.

"I commend the council officers who have worked hard to overcome many obstacles so that young people in the local area can have what they so rightly deserve - a safe and spacious area within a picturesque parkland setting where they can pursue their passion for urban sports as well as hang out and socialise with friends.

"This new facility will ensure that Solitude Park, like our other parks in the borough, are well-used environmental assets and much-valued leisure and recreational facilities. In a time when childhood obesity is still a major public health concern, I am fully supportive of projects that can make a real difference to keeping young people active and healthy." This project, which has received strong backing from the local community and is being delivered at a cost of 122,500, represents another sound council investment in creating more opportunities for young people to enjoy outdoor recreation.

The council appreciates the involvement of local urban sports group, Precision, who have contributed to this project from an early stage and hopes its members will be delighted to have achieved their goal of seeing Banbridge get its own dedicated urban sports facility.

The facility has been designed by McAvoy Construction LLP in association with Sprain Linn Ltd and overseen by Andreas Bast of X-MOVE GmbH.

The council announced plans last week to invest 2.4m in extending and refurbishing Dromore Community Centre.

UUP councillors have welcomed the planning success for the skateboard park.

Councillor Glenn Barr, Alderman Ian Burns and Alderman Elizabeth Ingram were delighted that it had finally been granted approval.

"We have been lobbying hard for a long time to provide a first class skateboarding facility for our young people.

"This project has come up against several setbacks; we are overjoyed that this is now becoming a reality with planning being approved." They believe this will be "a fantastic facility, which will have a legacy for many generations".


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