Hopes for Portrush skatepark progress with Council proposal

The hopes of a skatepark at Metropole Park, Portrush, took another step in the right direction at Tuesday’s meeting of Causeway Coast & Glens Leisure & Development Committee, writes Gillian Anderson, Local Democracy Reporter.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 9:16 am

For almost 20 years skaters in the Triangle area have been fighting for a purpose-built park.

Although not a committee member, Independent Councillor Angela Mulholland brought the issue and a request to Council to grant the lease of lands at Metropole Park to the Committee under ‘Any Other Business’.

Addressing the Chamber Councillor Mulholland said: “This is not a new request but it has failed to progress through to completion. 

“The Causeway Association of Urban Sports (CAUS) requests that Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council consider the granting of a lease of ground at Metropole Park, Portrush, for the development of an urban sports facility.

“The area requested would be the ‘brick-a-day’ area as was previously agreed by the then Coleraine Borough Council (CBC).”

Cllr Mulholland read an extract from the legacy council’s Leisure & Development Committee minutes dated December 10, 2013 which stated: ‘Recommended: That Council supports, in principle, the proposition and land request.’

Continuing the Causeway DEA Councillor said: “Causeway Coast & Glens is one of the few Council areas in Northern Ireland without a dedicated facility for urban sports, with such facilities now located in Belfast, Banbridge, Carrickfergus, Comber, Derry/Londonderry, Newtownards and Portavogie.

“Other facilities are under construction or approved for Newtownabbey, Ballymena and Newry.

“CAUS would wish to develop an appropriate facility at Metropole Park. An agreement to lease this area of land by Council will allow CAUS to work, in partnership with Council, to progress with various funding opportunities to achieve this facility.

“The various benefits this proposal will bring include: An Urban Sports Park is a shared space where everyone can have fun and challenge themselves and where all ages and abilities can interact.

“It would create access to new high-quality local spaces with a range of activities for local and wider community use.

“It would regenerate a neglected area to create a more attractive area, engaging with communities in innovative approaches in their use and maintenance of this area.

“It would improve community cohesion and build new relationships within and between communities so that residents can appreciate and gain respect for each other. 

“And it would enable communities and individuals to develop healthier lifestyles by taking part in physical activities due to increased accessibility to affordable recreational spaces.”

Councillor Mulholland proposed the ‘granting of a lease for development as agreed by Coleraine Borough Council.’ The proposal was seconded by Alliance Councillor Chris McCaw who added: “This should be progressing now.”

UUP Alderman Norman Hillis agreed saying: “Certainly this has been around for a long time. It must have been 10 years ago when it was suggested that the council grant a lease for a piece of land at Metropole Park. Basically there was a problem with insurance and funding and it fell by the wayside.

“It’s not on our to-do list, I thought it was, but it’s very worthwhile it being considered,” he added. “Perhaps they are looking to us in principle to agree that land could be made available as had been promised nine or 10 years ago.

“We are certainly at an early stage but I would be in favour of it going to Land & Property to be investigated. It is a worthwhile project and maybe the CAUS group can access funding we can’t.”

DUP Councillor Aaron Callan pointed out that Councillor Mulholland was unable to make a proposal as she isn’t a member of the Leisure & Development Committee, leading Alderman Hillis to propose that the matter goes to the Land & Property Committee which Cllr McCaw seconded.

DUP Alderman and former Mayor Mark Fielding referred to a proposal that had been passed at the latter end of the last legacy council in 2014.

Reading the 2014 minutes he said: “It was proposed by Councillor Fielding and seconded by Councillor Hillis that Council approves the offer of land to CAUS for an urban plaza/skateboard park and Metropole Park and requests Officers to prepare a lease agreement,” he said. “At that time other things took priority.”

Agreeing this needed to be dealt with by the Land & Property Committee, Alderman Fielding added: “There’s other issues with regards to leases which are currently with Land & Property so the sooner it goes there the investigation can start.”