Barracks to be sports base?

HQ of The Royal Irish Regiment St Patrick's Barrack Ballymena.  Pic Bernie Brown
HQ of The Royal Irish Regiment St Patrick's Barrack Ballymena. Pic Bernie Brown

Ballymena Borough Council is to express its interest in securing a substantial part of the St Patrick’s Barracks site with the intention of putting it to community and sporting use.

At their Economic Growth and Development Committee, last week, councillors agreed an officer recommendation that interest be expressed in the Barracks’ playing fields, games hall and gymnasium.

Should Council be successful in that process, it was agreed that consideration would be given to developing detailed costing for bringing those areas into interim use.

Officer Aidan Donnelly told members that the cost of that was at present estimated to be in excess of £215,000, not including management and security costs, for four to five years’ use of the site.

And on that basis, councillors accepted his recommendation that it would be inappropriate to commit to such a spend “unless the site is going to come into council’s ownership going forward”.

He reminded them that St Patrick’s Barracks was gifted by the MoD to the NI Executive in 2012.

Since then, OFMDFM had agreed the 42 acre site could be made available on a short-term basis for community use until final plans for its disposal are agreed.

Mr Donnelly reported that after significant consultation with local sporting groups had confirmed that current facility provision for many outdoor sports is limited in the borough and there is a need for additional locations.

The playing fields, games hall and gymnasium had emerged as the areas of most interest for potential council use, he said.