Plans to create a purpose-built BMX facility in Larne are on the right track, after the idea was greeted with enthusiasm by local councillors.
East Coast Raiders (ECR) BMX Club has approached Larne Borough Council to explore the possibility of securing a long-term lease of the disused all-weather gravel pitch at Antiville playing fields.
The local sports club feels the proposed new facility would not only regenerate what is now a derelict area, but will also provide a unique opportunity for people in the borough and beyond.
ECR hopes to obtain funding for the proposed track from Community Foundation NI.
But they also need a commitment from the local authority that they will be successful in acquiring a lease for the land.
And, having made its pitch to the council, the club been told it has the full support of elected representatives.
Founder of ECR, Geoff Lynch, and vice-chairman Jeremy Greer gave their presentation at the latest meeting of the council’s public services committee.
The pair, along with Kevin McShane, head of BMX Ireland, made the case that a national standard BMX racing track would benefit not only the Larne community, but Northern Ireland as a whole.
Speaking after the meeting, Geoff told the Larne Times: “Kevin highlighted to councillors that Antiville playing fields was an ideal site for a national size track.
“He added that Larne is a prime location, with the new A8 being built and the port on our doorstep.
“Kevin assured the council that having a track in Larne would not only allow the town to host rounds of Ulster and Irish championships, but it would also be on the calendar to host rounds of British BMX championships, all of which would benefit lots of businesses in the town such as B&Bs, hotels, bars, restaurants, and others.”
Cllr Drew Niblock said the response from elected members to the club’s proposal had been “very favourable”.
He added: “This is a very exciting project for Larne, as it would bring the local community together as well as attract others from outside the borough.
“The club is keen to get this facility up and running as soon as possible, and the consensus was that we as councillors would be keen to support them.”
While members indicated their support for the proposal, a decision has not yet been reached regarding the lease of Antiville playing fields.
Geoff added: “The chief executive told us there was more to consider, but said we should tell the funders that the proposal was received well by all in council and that the matter would be discussed at a future meeting.”