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Exciting plans to replace 80-year-old hall with state-of-the-art cross-community venue

A new state-of-the-art cross-community hall on the outskirts of Armagh could soon become a reality, with a planning application now lodged for consideration.

Corran Community Association is hoping to demolish an old Ancient Order of Hibernians Hall on the Newtownhamilton Road.

The corrugated metal and dated structure has been serving the needs of the local community, young and old, for many years.

But the group has been limited in terms of what it could do.

The hall – at 287 Newtownhamilton Road – was built in 1934.

It is now proposed to have it demolished and replaced with a new facility almost double the size.

It has been a goal which has been in the pipeline for some time.

Last December, Corran Community Association was celebrating after winning a share of a £2.7 million Big Lottery Fund grant under the Space and Place Programme, which aims to transform underused, contested and neglected space across Northern Ireland.

An award of £349,000 was made towards the project to help the group “replace their local hall with a new building for the use of the whole community”.

In June, the association announced the appointment of RE Quinn Architects, of Dromore, as lead consultant and design for the capital project.

The architect has now submitted plans on behalf of the association to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council for consideration.

These are due to be publicly advertised next week.

The new development – if approved – would include an exhibition area, accessed through a main foyer. There would be a meeting room, as well as kitchen and a large main hall, together with storage space. There would also be toilet facilities, including enhanced disabled provision.

It would also allow a range of groups to be accommodated and activities to be laid on, including social evenings, dancing, bowls and much, much more.

Seamus McParland, of Corran Community Association, spoke shortly after the announcement of funding and said it had brought “a real buzz” to the area.

“It used to belong to the AOH,” he said. “From that there we have opened it up to the wider community so that cross-community groups can come in as well, and for all generations.

“There seems to be an interest in the hall and that’s why we are trying to get it more developed and updated to get more people to come to it.”

He said the award of Space and Place funding had meant so much and was “opening up more doors”.

“It will make a vast difference,” added Seamus. “It will bring people together.”

A decision on the application would be expected early in the New Year.

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