Details of the plans and proposed vesting arrangements in connection with the A24 Ballynahinch Bypass have now been published. As expected the Millbridge Playing Fields are going to be seriously affected and indeed to a much greater extent than had originally been understood.
The proposals indicate that when the work is complete all that will remain in the ownership of Ballynahinch United F.C. will be the Millbridge pitch [and a narrow strip around it] and the clubhouse with everything else getting vested e.g. training pitch, car park, road to treatment works and the access to the ground is also being altered.
All of these changes have a detrimental effect on the running of Ballynahinch United and its Youth Section and causes considerable problems for match days and particularly when there are large crowds for local derbies and more senior teams in Irish or Intermediate cup games.
The loss of the training pitch has serious financial implications leaving the club with having to hire additional pitches for this activity which spread across the whole club could result in additional charges of up £300 per week.
On match days the loss of the overflow car parking raises all sorts of health and safety concerns particularly as the proposals do not cater for over 100 cars leaving and collecting players at training / match days.
The club would want to make it abundantly clear that it does not wish to stand in the way of progress and if the A24 Ballynahinch Bypass is the solution to the traffic problems for the town then we support it.
The environmental impact study carried out by the authorities [and to which the club has contributed] recognises that the road will impact on the club but it does not make any suggestions as to how such an impact might be mitigated. The fact that vesting carries a certain amount of financial compensation is no comfort to an amateur organisation that depends on the support of the business community and the financial contributions of its members/supporters for its existence. The loss of our training facilities puts a significant strain on our already limited and stretched financial resources not for a few weeks or months but for years and years to come.
Additionally the construction of a new road contains significant plans to cater for the rain water that will run of it and it will not be until it is finished that the full effects of the work on our pitch drainage will be known and if they have got it wrong we could face major problems.
There is a free exhibition at The Market House this Tuesday 12.30pm to 9pm and Wednesday from 10am to 9pm where questions will be answered by Transport NI. We are asking for as many players, supporters and the many friends of the Club to take a few minutes to call at The Market House and register their concerns in respect of the proposals and the effect that they will on Millbridge.
Questions that we will be asking are:
- Have you considered relocating the Millbridge Playing Fields to another location in the town?
- Could any of the land adjoining the Millbridge be leased to the club as a substitute for the training facilities that it is losing?
- Are the Civil Engeering Designers confident that the drainage to the Millbridge pitch will not be deteriorated as a result of the construction of the road?
- Are the Civil Engeering Designers confident that the fumes from the traffic passing so close to the Millbridge will not have a detrimental effect on the players using the pitch and grass on it?
Your assistance and support in this matter would be greatly appreciated.