A long-running proposal to replace the Waveney Community Centre has taken a step nearer realisation.
Councillors have agreed at committee level to proceed to full planning permission with the project.
Members attending the meeting, last week, backed a proposal by Cllr Jayne Dunlop to push on with replacing the premises at a net cost of over £1m.
However, Cllr Declan O’Loan said he was opposed to the scheme, stating: “I am not convinced this represents good value for money.”
Reminding councillors of the background to the project, a Council officer said that the existing building was rendered unfit for use in 2009 and that Council were appraised in 2010 of various options for development including refurbishment or new build and that an economic appraisal was carried which examined numerous options on which the Waveney community was consulted.
That process, she said, reinforced the need for a multi-use facility and the economic appraisal and business plan subsequently concluded that the development of a “new small facility plus a 3G pitch & lighting and play area” was the preferred option.
It was also pointed out that the project “will directly address deprivation and social inclusion with a positive impact in facilitating regeneration within the Fair Green Ward areas” and that Council’s Capital Estimates include provision for the replacement community centre at a net capital cost of £1.2m.
Cllr O’Loan said: “If you look around Ballymena there are plenty of other areas that have nothing like the amount of council facilities available to them (Waveney). I think Council have found the wrong solution to the issues that exist there.”
Mr O’Loan queried whether community facilities at Waveney could be enhanced in partnership with the local church only to be told by Cllr James McClean that the church already worked very closely and successfully with the community.
Proposing to push on with the centre scheme, Cllr Dunlop said she was “delighted to see it has got to this stage” and she found a ready seconder in the Mayor, Cllr Audrey Wales who congratulated the community on their input.
Also voicing his support for the project, Cllr McClean said: “It’s a great job! “I think it’s a great boost to the area and I would welcome it.”