Work continues on multi-million pound sports plans

An artist’s impression of the new sporting facilities being proposed by Strabane Athletic FC.

DESPITE no on-site works commencing in the intervening year, a local football club has said its multi-million pound plans to transform the future of sport locally, are still very much alive.

In December 2016 it was revealed that Strabane Athletic FC had secured land to develop a new outdoor pitch as well as Ireland’s first full size indoor 3G pitch. 

Also included within the ambitious plans were a conference and community centre, changing and treatment rooms and enough space to cater for hundreds of spectators.

The development is to be located off the Strabane by-pass close to Holy Cross College and Moneymore-based Manor Architects were appointed to take the project forward.

Whilst admitting his slight disappointment at the pace of progress, Seamus McElroy from Strabane Athletic says untold work is still being done behind the scenes.

“There’s so much work being done in terms of the planning and the processes you have to go through,” explained Seamus. “So, things are still moving.

“The preliminary planning bits and pieces, PAN (proposal of application notice) and PAD (pre-advice discussion) have been returned and there are no objections from planners in either of those, which is positive. These facilities allow you to work on things, iron out things, before you go through to the full application.”

Back in 2016 Seamus predicted that works could begin on site by the end of 2017. However, with planning processes ongoing, it is hoped the first sod could be turned before the end of this year.

“The plan is that the full planning application will be submitted this month,” Seamus continued.

“And because you have the PAD and PAN done, there should be a quick turn around in planning.

“After the application is made, we’re looking at fundraising.”

The full development is expected to run to millions of pounds, although it is hoped that the project can be financed from various funding streams. To that end, Strabane Athletic has employed the services of a company called S3 Solutions.

“They’re going to help source the funding,” Seamus added. “And they’re in the middle of developing a business case for us as well. 

“Certainly, it isn’t going to be a cheap process. The big draw that we organised last year raised £50,000 for us and we also gave away £50,000 in prizes. That money has allowed us to get where we are. There will be a fundraising events calendar going public in the coming weeks, so we’re hoping that local people will get behind us on that.”

He concluded, “Everything will depend on funding but I would love to think the work will begin before the end of the year.”

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