The rector of St Cedma’s Church says a new £500,000 church hall development will help regenerate a ‘dilapidated’ section of the town.
Archdeacon Stephen Forde spoke out after Mid and East Antrim Council sold the land to the rear of Inver Garden Park to to the Church of Ireland Representatives’ Body on St Cedma’s behalf.
Last March, planning permission was granted for a new parish hall capable of seating up to 200 people at the site.
Permission was also given to create an adjacent car park with 33 spaces, and Archdeacon Forde says that the development will create a “cloister complex” which will open the area up for the community.
“This will be very much a community faciity, it’s not just for the people of St Cedma’s Parish, he stated.
“It is a major development for the town as well as the parish.
“The new single-storey community hall is completely disability accessible and will also feature a kitchen, toilet and storage facilities.
“Our old hall on the Curran Road was 90 years old and had structural problems after the bombing in the seventies, so the cost of refurbishment would have been equal to that of purchasing and building the new hall.
“Now, after 12 years of negotiations with the local council we are going to be able to proceed.
“We would hope to open the new hall up to the Irish Dancing Festival and to groups such as Uplift Drama Group, Brownies, parents’ groups and others.
“It is a real boost for everyone.”
The church has spent years fundraising for the project, and has so far secured £480,000 of the £500,000 needed to undertake the work.
“We will continue fundraising until we reach our target,” Archdeacon Forde stated.
“We would be hoping to get on site in mid 2017.
“We hope that this development will reinvigorate and the Inver Road area, and will be part of the regeneration of that whole area.”