BEST IN THE PROVINCE

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COLERAINE’S proposed new sports village at Rugby Avenue has been described as an ‘exciting and iconic’ project not just for Coleraine but for Northern Ireland.

Officials from Waveney District Council were in Coleraine last week on a two-day visit to view the Rugby Avenue site and view plans for the £43 million development, which could be up and running in four years time.

Earlier this year a working group, including Coleraine councillors, visited Waveney to view a project similar to what is planned for Rugby Avenue.

The development in Coleraine, will be the first public-private leisure enterprise in the area and will boast a stadium pitch, which has been designed in conjuction with Coleraine Football Club, a 4G multi use pitch, two 3G pitches, a synthetic hockey pitch, caged five-a-side and seven-a-side football facilities, a play area and commercial units.

On Friday, Times Sport spoke exclusively to David Gallagher, Waveney Council’s Head of Commercial Partnerships and Strategic Commissioning, who was behind the successful project in his region.

Mr Gallagher described Coleraine’s proposed leisure facility as ‘exciting’.

“I’ve only been here a few days and I am already really excited about this project.

“This is a massive opportunity not just for Coleraine, but for Northern Ireland.

“The market is right for development, and I have no doubt that the facility in Coleraine will provide a modern mix for the residents and the business community.”

Coleraine Football Club have already agreed in principal to move from the Showgrounds to become anchor tenants of the new stadium pitch. Coleraine FC Directors have been involved in the planning stages of the development, having their say on what they want to see at their new ground.

It is also hoped that the development will see the return of the Milk Cup.

Richard Baker, Coleraine Borough Council’s Corporate Director of Leisure and Development Services told The Times that the visit was the ‘next step in the process’ for Rugby Avenue’.

He explained that the representatives from Waveney Council were acting as consultants at no cost to Coleraine Council

“We want to learn from Waveney Council.

“ They’ve been able to talk us through the path ahead and have helped us set out plans for the procurement route.

“We want to make sure we get the right partner in this project.

“They have been through every aspect of the project and delivered a magnificent facility, and we want to learn from them.”