The announcement that the Velodrome Proposal is not going ahead is a lucky break for the ratepayers in Down District said Cllr Cadogan Enright after the announcement that under the “comprehensive spending review” it has been cancelled.
Cllr Cadogan Enright said, “Even though the building would have been part funded by Sport NI the running costs would have to be funded locally. Given that the Velodrome was supposed to ‘double-up’ as the Downpatrick Leisure Centre, the proposed site was 5 kilometres from the centre of the town on the Belfast Road out in the Green Belt. The entire business case was very questionable and it was looking like another ‘white elephant’. This was an waste of £50,000 ratepayers money”.
“It was essentially the wrong project in the wrong site and would not have been as be accessible as the existing Downpatrick Leisure Centre in Dunleath Park. The delays associated with merging the new Downpatrick Leisure centre project with the Velodrome has essentially ensured that we no don’t have a new Leisure centre in Downpatrick and we are back to square one, looking for a site,” Said Cllr Enright.
Enright pointed out that “The Council had consulted the Strategic Planning Authority on the location for the proposed Velodrome off the Belfast Road. The Strategic Authority opposed the original proposed site in Donard Park, but has apparently indicated that the site in the Green Belt north of Downpatrick might be acceptable following traffic and environmental surveys. As a result the council had not made a full planning application, as any attempt to build on the Green Belt would have been fraught with planning difficulty without the imprimatur of Stormont or the Regional Planning Authority.”
Cadogan Enright claimed “A key issue is the failure of the council to properly investigate alternative sites properly, several of which exist within the boundaries of the town plan area and would have been more suitable as they would assist the long-term development within Downpatrick, would be more easily accessed by local people, and would avoid building in the Green Belt.”
“Firstly, if the Velodrome was built on vacant land between the New Hospital and the Ballyhornan Road, it could add an extra section of the ring-road so vital to the future of the Hospital and the ‘Public Sector Employment Campus’ planned for the Town.”
“Secondly, a huge area of serviced land in Ballyrenan has lain idle for over 20 years in the hands of Invest NI beside the Business Park on the Belfast Road. This idle site has a good access road and would not require building in the Green Belt, but like the council preferred site is quite distant from the town.”
“Thirdly, given the Councils suggestion in its recently published ‘Masterplan’ of extensive zoning for Development on the swampland around the existing Leisure Centre in Dunleath Park, the obvious question remains why they are not choosing the existing site given its central location, convenience to local people and access to public Transport. My predecessors Raymond Blayney and Bill Corry both campaigned for this site to be retained as the best and most central one for the people of the area given its proximity to public transport,” Concluded Councillor Cadogan Enright