Larne and Carrickfergus parks to progress subject to £0.3m funding availability
Two long-awaited playgrounds could be constructed during the next financial year if £0.3m funding is made available, a report to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Direct Services Committee has stated.
The report says that subject to capital funding, new playgrounds at Ferris Park in Larne and Oakfield in Carrickfergus will progress in 2022/23.
The condition of the park at Old Glenarm Road, in the ‘Factory’ area of the town was highlighted at a council meeting last month by Coast Road DUP Councillor Angela Smyth.
Cllr Smyth called for a new play park for the entire green space and requested the replacement to be a “top priority” for the local authority in its capital plan saying that it is in need of “an urgent upgrade”.
The borough council says that all new or refurbished play parks should be designed to be as inclusive as possible.
Connswater Homes is progressing a new housing development adjacent to Oakfield in Carrickfergus and it is anticipated that the company will contribute approximately £25k towards the development of a new play park in the area.
Meanwhile the Factory Community Forum in Larne has secured £25k funding through the Executive Office’s Community and Transition Capacity Building Programme to establish play and recreation facilities in the area.
A proposal for play, recreation space and bonfire site has been drawn up.
The report noted that findings of a survey carried out by the Forum in 2018 found that three quarters of 216 respondents felt that open spaces in the area were “poor”.
Focus groups reported “poorly maintained and appointed open spaces and play facilities as a major issue”.
Poor play and recreation facilities were highlighted in the report as “contributing factors to anti-social behaviour”.
The report went on to say that this research has “highlighted the vulnerability of young people to negative influences such as paramilitaries and substance and alcohol misuse” and that efforts to address these are “hampered” by a lack of appropriate facilities, particularly in the areas where young people congregate despite outreach initiatives delivered by the Factory Community Forum and other partners.
Overall 97 per cent of respondents said they felt that their families would be likely to use facilities in the district if these were upgraded.
Councillors have also been told that “the wider Ferris Park area is poorly served in terms of quality local facilities and public realm in general and improvements to this open space would have significant impact for people of all ages”.
The report also stated: “While the annual bonfire and cultural celebrations are an important focus for the local community, there is a recognition of the need to reduce the size and impact of the bonfire if the site is to be redeveloped and both Factory Community Forum and Boyne Square Bonfire Forum are committed to providing leadership around this through the Factory Festival.”
A full public consultation on the final designs and securing the approval of local residents for the development is expected to take place.
Coast Road DUP Councillor Andrew Clarke said: “It is great to see plans for the Ferris Park green come though. The project would transform the area, creating an area everyone would be able to enjoy.
“The local community are to be congratulated in bringing this over the line. We will continue to press the council to treat this development as an absolute priority.”
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter
Click here to read: Larne playground refurbishment confirmed and ‘queue jumping’ concerns addressed
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