A New Downpatrick FC Soccer Pitch Still On Track

0
205

Following discussions at the Active and Healthy Communities committee
 meeting on Monday 18 February of  Newry Mourne and Down District Council, the members 
agreed to support Downpatrick FC going forward after their bid to the EU
 Social Investment Fund collapsed.

A strong option: the former site of the Downpatrick FC soccer pitch which could be developed into a new facility for the club pending its sale to the Council from the South Eastern HSC Trust.

The Downpatrick FC proposal aimed to build a fit-for-purpose 3G pitch with
 associated lighting, car parking and changing facilities at the site
 adjacent to Downpatrick Racecourse and the back of Racecourse Road in
 Downpatrick.


 Council Chief Executive Liam Hannaway received a letter from the Executive
 Office which said: “The original cost of the project was £1,042 986 which
 was to be funded via £492,986 from the Social Investment Fund (SIF)
 Community Operated Sports Facilities Project with the remainder being
 provided by the Department for Communities, Landfill Community Trust and
 Newry Mourne and Down District Council with a collective offer of £550,000.
However, groundwork and drainage issues identified at design stage have
 caused significant cost increases resulting in the sum required to deliver
 the project rising to £3,080,894.

Michael Lipsett, Director of the Council’s Active and Healthy Community section.

The letter continued: “Given the 
increased costs, the Department reappraised the business case for the
 project and was unable to establish that the proposed construction costs of
approximately £3million were value for money.

The project failed as it did not meet the necessary standards for value for
 money.

Speaking after the meeting, AHC director Michael Lipsett said 
”The key issue was the need construct a concrete slab supported by piles to 
carry the pitch, changing pavilion and floodlighting. This was  due to
 the discovery of very poor ground across the entire site resulting in
 considerable additional costs to construct the facility. After 
consideration of several alternative design options and a re-assessment of 
the costs, it was found to cost almost three times more than the original
 estimate.

“The funder determined that the project no longer demonstrated
 value for money and was therefore not viable


”.

Cllr Gareth Sharvin, Chair of the Active and Healthy Community committee.

“Council officers and myself have spent almost five years working with
 Downpatrick FC officials, and it is a disappointing result for us all. But 
all is not lost.


 We are happy to look at any options that the Club wishes to bring before
 the Council, and one possible option is to re-establish the club on their 
former Downshire soccer pitch site.

“While the Council contribution has
 effectively been lost due to the project not proceeding, should there be a
 new viable project, the Council would consider diverting these funds.
 to a future development. Council has agreed to work with the club and if the land can be found, 
then planning permission and a business case would be required.”

Councillor Gareth Sharvin who chairs the AHC committee said: “Myself and
 Councillor Terry Andrews have met with club representatives on Tuesday to discuss how we can move forward with this.
 It was very unfortunate that the project for a new pitch in Downpatrick
 failed due to environmental reasons making it poor value for money.

“Downpatrick FC are an excellent club and provide a huge amount of sport 
and recreation for young boys and girls and indeed young men and women in 
this area. In a week there could easily be over 100 people participating in 
soccer matches and not to mention the voluntary management, fund-raising 
and training that underpins this activity of the club.

“Council has agreed to work with the club and I will certainly do all I can
 to ensure they have a proper football pitch and facilities as soon as is
 possible.”