Belfast City Council and Fold Housing Association have teamed up with John Mitchel GAC and other community partners to begin work on a new multi-sports pitch at Sally Gardens Community Centre in Poleglass.
Work got underway today on the £1 million facility which will provide a modern 3G pitch and associated car parking off the Bell Steele Road, making it easier for local people to get involved in a range of sports.
It is the first project to be delivered under the council's Investment Programme in the Colin area, which became part of the bigger Belfast City Council last month. The council has pledged £585,000 towards the scheme, with John Mitchel GAC contributing £350,000 and Fold Housing Association providing the remaining £75,000.
Joining local school children from St Kieran's Primary School to cut the first sod on the site, Lord Mayor, Councillor Arder Carson, said:'This is great news for local sports teams, players and citizens, and shows Belfast City Council's determination to follow through on its pledge towards continued investment right across the city with real results on the ground.
'Through our Investment Programme, we have developed a strong track record of working closely with statutory agencies, community groups and local clubs to create much needed facilities which not only boost participation in sports and reduce antisocial behaviour, but also create a sense of pride within local neighbourhoods.'
'This has been a real team effort, with input from Poleglass Community Association, the Department for Social Development and St John's GAC, as well as the funders at Fold Housing Association and John Mitchel GAC and our colleagues at Lisburn City Council, and I'm confident it will be rewarded with a top class facility which everyone can be proud of' he continued.
The new pitch is expected to take around nine months to complete, before opening for action in spring/summer 2016.
Diana Fitzsimons, Chair of Fold Housing Association, said: â€œThe success of this initiative has been underpinned by collaborative working - resolving a series of land ownership, planning and financial issues. Fold was the catalyst to unlock the potential of the sites.
As a result, 99 new homes have been constructed by Fold, creating employment opportunities, providing housing in an area of high housing stress and improving the overall built environment, including the addition of this 3G pitch which will provide year round facilities for the local community.
FoId's work is more than bricks and mortar - we are in the business of homes, communities, being innovative and working in partnership, and are delighted to be part of such an innovative project.
David Kennedy, Chair of John Mitchel GAC, said the investment into local sports facilities was welcome news for local sports teams and players. He said, 'This development has been worked on for a number of years and we are now in the final stages, producing a first class facility for the Colin neighbourhood and Poleglass in particular. This community has been John Mitchel GAC's home for over 30 years and we are proud to invest in the local area. The new pitch will allow our club to turn a huge corner in terms of developing youth and ladies teams, while also promoting health and wellbeing using Gaelic games.
Pictured Above: David Kennedy, GAA, Diana Fitzsimons, Fold's Chair, Sinead, St Kieran's PS and Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Arder Carson.
Below: Â The new pitch at Sally Gardens is a fantastic example of community and partnership work; Pupils from St Kieran's show us their skills; Diana Fitzsimons with Grace, Sinead, Darren and Vincent from St Kieran's PS; Community celebration at the sod cutting.