Ballyholme community group pushes for more recreational spaces for youth in Bangor
Meet the group of Co Down residents determined to regenerate the local area and make it more accessible to the youth of Bangor.
The Save Kingsland Community Group was formed by local residents interested in the conservation and restoration of the Ballyholme area between Ward Avenue and Seaforth Road.
As part of the Bangor waterfront development plans, Ards and the North Down Council plan to develop the area by building housing and parking in the Kingsland area that residents believe could be better utilized.
Speaking to Belfast Live, Save Kingsland member Peter McCreadie said: ‘We have trained each time we heard that the council, as part of the Bangor Waterfront program, wanted to develop the screen area at Ballyholme. .
“The initial plans show that they intend to build on the green space, which is one of the only areas like this in Ballyholme, by building a skateboard park, parking lot on the grounds of pitch and putt, accommodation and apartments on the tennis courts.
“Our group fully supports the development of the waterfront provided it is in harmony with the natural landscape of the region.”
Residents have become “overwhelmed” by the plans for the development of the green space and the tennis courts as they believe it is “a real resource for the local people of Bangor.” ”
“Rather than a skateboard park which will be a big concrete horror that will attract graffiti, we suggest developing a sculpted BMX park for young people that fits into the natural space,” explained Peter.
Another resident, Johnny Webb, added: “The whole idea of the Waterfront project is to connect the residents of Bangor to the coast and we don’t see how building apartments on public spaces lends itself to this end.
Through their lobbying, the group has so far been able to save two of the four tennis courts, making them playable again so that young people in the area can use the space safely.
“What we’re really focusing on are the tennis courts. They’ve been allowed to decay for the last five or six years, ”said Peter.
Johnny continued, “I was told the reason for their closure was a health and safety issue with the fence as it was extremely old.
“We proposed that the council keep two of the tennis courts and change the bottom court to a multi-purpose play area (MUGA) with five side nets for the football and basketball hoops.
“The council has installed new fences on an interim basis with the intention that the grounds remain roughly as they are, but cleaned and weeded so that they are suitable for general recreational use.”
The Save Kingsland group is hoping that this preserved space can be used for more than just tennis and that it can provide a safe space for people to skateboard, play football and rugby, and even dance online.
“We were disappointed to learn that they didn’t put on a net or a hoop. When I look around my house every day, that’s what the kids want and that’s what they usually play, ”explained Johnny.
“After the whole pandemic, most people are not going to get by this summer and we just think the space could be better used for the residents of Bangor.
“There has been a lot of work on arrangements for young children in the counseling area, but for older adolescents there is a void and we think this is a tip that is missed and we will continue to lobby. ”
Peter added: “We want to be able to connect these young people to their environment again and if Covid has shown us anything it’s that people want to go out and engage.
“Residents are delighted that a level of work has been done to allow the courts to reopen, but with a little more they could be used for a lot more.”
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