A bright new dawn will hopefully be breaking over a Ballymena housing estate which has suffered from deprivation issues in the past.
In fact Drumtara looks set to bloom thanks to a £267,000 investment.
The Ballee estate has been significantly improved with the creation of a new state of the art play park, a community garden alongside 33 allotment sites for local residents and a dedicated community hub called Community House.
Paul Givan MLA, Minister for Communities, today officially opened the projects which received financial support totalling £267,000.
The Minister said: “It is clear that the new play park, garden and the Berries and Bloom allotments will deliver activities for both young and old in the Drumtara Estate. These communal spaces have already helped build local relationships, enabled the sharing of skills and will ultimately benefit those who use them with a healthier lifestyle.
“It is also very evident that the opening of an unused Northern Ireland Housing Executive building as a new community facility will also benefit the people of Drumtara and wider Ballee area. Community House will be used by local people to engage with each other and increase pride, spirit and interest in local activities.”
The Northern Ireland Housing Executive fitted out Community House as well as providing the land for the allotments and play park.
Minister Givan praised the work of the Seven Towers Community Association, the local community group who engaged with the statutory bodies to deliver the projects. The Minister said: “The most important contribution in delivering any project like this comes through the community itself taking ownership and responsibility. The Seven Towers Community Association, from the development of a vision, has taken the initiative and through their hard work and effort, have delivered key and sustainable benefits for the entire community.”
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE said: “The people of Mid and East Antrim are already well known for their sense of community with this further addition of new social facilities – this time in Ballymena – being very welcome.
“I am quite sure that this fabulous play park, garden, allotments and the associated Community House will provide even more scope to further enhance our existing sense of community spirit.”
Jennifer Hawthorne, Head of Communities at the Housing Executive, said: “We are delighted to support this project which will help to regenerate and create a more vibrant community in the Drumtara area.
“All the elements of this project work in tandem for the good of the community. The allotments will provide produce which can be used in cookery classes and while these classes are taking place parents can watch their children playing in the new park.
“This project will be used as an example of good practice for other groups across Northern Ireland. Thanks to all the agencies, local businesses and residents involved, however, special thanks must be paid to the Seven Towers group who worked so hard to bring these projects to fruition.”
Thomas Balmer of the Seven Towers Community Association said: “These projects are amongst the best our organisation has achieved to date. We now have beautiful allotments, a fantastic modern children’s play area and the third part of our hub, the community house, where the next stage of our group’s future is just beginning.
“It is because of the valued input from the Action for Community Transformation initiative working alongside support from statutory bodies such as the Department for Communities, Mid & East Antrim Borough Council and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive that we can safely say Seven Towers Community Association and the community it supports can look forward to a very bright future going forward.”