A new Newry Urban Sports Park could be set to replace a controversial plan for a dedicated BMX track in the city.
A major cycling project by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) funded by Special EU Programmes Body money under the PEACE IV programme, had previously faced heavy opposition from the local community at its proposed Derrybeg location.
A new concept design at Newry Leisure Centre grounds for a multiple urban sports park, located a short distance from the original BMX site is now due to close its public consultation.
A NMDDC spokesperson said: “Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is currently conducting a community consultation regarding the proposed location for a new Urban Sports Park at Newry Leisure.
“This is a different project to the previous BMX project in Derrybeg. The consultation closes on January 15.”
Slieve Gullion councillor, Declan Murphy who sits on the Peace IV programme board is supporting the new designs.
He said: “I believe that this new design ticks all the boxes for young people in the area compared to the previous BMX designs in Derrybeg.
“This will be a more inclusive project and a natural fit for the area.
“This is European money that is required to be spent by a certain time.
“I have had to drive my own children to locations in Belfast and Banbridge just to take part in such sports.
“This new design will provide for a whole range of activities in a brilliant location after the Derrybeg location was rejected by the local community.
“I do hope that young people will have a say in the final design and layout of the park.
“Although I welcome the progress, the artist’s impression of the park is a little underwhelming.
“I would like to see the best facility that will reflect the wants and needs of the core user group.
“From previous experiences, a lack of consultation with core users has resulted in poor facilities in the past.
“An example being the ramps the previous council purchased in 2002 and the ramps included in playground upgrades in 2019.
“I would urge as many people as possible to have their say and let’s make Newry’s Urban Sports Park as good as can be.”
The consultation link for the Newry Urban Sports Park can be found on the council website here.