Shamrock Park in Portadown looks set to be transformed with a blueprint to develop the football club’s facilities – and offer greater community use – now drawn up.
The project was first publicly mooted in May 2022, when Armagh I first revealed plans in the pipeline through planned pre-application discussions.
And now a formal planning application has been laid before Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council for consideration.
The application is for the “upgrading of Shamrock Park”, the Brownstown Road ground which has been home to Portadown FC since 1906.
The works, if approved, would include the replacement of the existing spectator stand, new training and community facilities to be contained with a dome structure, the relocation and upgrading of the existing grass pitch, and resetting of an existing floodlight, and creation of a new turnstile block.
The proposals also detail the development of new “business/incubation and community space” under the existing stand, as well as car and coach parking facilities. There are currently 110 car parking spaces, a number which would increase to 200 if successful. There would also be 17 disabled parking spaces and three for coaches.
A design and access statement by Carlin Planning Ltd provides more details on what is proposed and why these plans are deemed essential for Portadown FC going forward.
It states: “The proposal will facilitate the upgrade of Shamrock Park, creating a modern, vibrant sporting hub for Portadown and the local community.
“The proposal will include for the replacement of the existing 800 seater spectator stand with a new 1,046 seater stand. The replacement stand will increase the capacity of Shamrock Park and will address health and safety issues that exist with the current stand.
“The new stand will also incorporate new changing facilities, community hall and meeting rooms, reception and lobby area, new club shop and additional storage space.
“The proposal will include for a state-of-the-art training facility, contained within a dome structure, to the northern section of the site.
“The new training facility will be open to the wider community, including schools and other local groups.
“The existing grass pitch will be upgraded to a 3G playing pitch and will be repositioned further south from its current position by approximately two metres.
“The existing floodlight to the north-east will be moved in line with the 3G pitch by approximately nine metres.
“The proposal will also incorporate upgraded turnstiles at the Brownstown Road entrance of Shamrock Park.”
And it adds: “The proposal will contribute positively to the creation of a quality living environment for local residents, supporters of Portadown FC and the wider area. The proposals seek to provide and enhance an existing community asset on the doorstep for many Portadown residents.
“The application site is within walking distance for many residents who currently use vehicles to access other sporting and recreational uses. The same can be said for Portadown FC who, due to lack of quality facilities within the existing grounds, also travel to various other locations by train.”
The design and access statement says the plans would not “significantly intensify” the use of the site. But they would “provide for high quality facilities to the benefit of existing users”.
The new-look facilities would make use of the existing pedestrian and vehice access points to the west of the site at Fitzgerald Park. 4It is envisaged that this will be a “dedicated access to the training facilities so the community can continue to use these facilities, even on match days”.
The response to the pre-application had been “generally positive”. Some concerns regarding “potential overshadowing of the state-of-the-art training facility in the dome” were noted during the feedback, which the applicant sought to address through the completion of a sunlight analysis exhibited at a follow-up event. It has seen the dome reduced by three metres.
The access statement says there would only be a “minor intensification” of the site with an additional 246 seats, with the “worst case scenario it will remain comparable to the existing”.
It adds: “The site is intended to be used more regularly as a result of the upgraded training facilities, however, will not attract anywhere near the same number of visitors that attend the football matches.
“A programme of activities will be key to the future success of the upgrades.
“The management of the training facility will be undertaken through an online and telephone booking system that will allow users to pick a preferred time slot. This will ensure that time slots are pre-arranged, mitigating against additional footfall/vehicular traffic.
“It is also anticipated that a large proportion of those using the facilities will be within walking distance of Shamrock Park.
“Therefore the overall anticipated noise or light pollution likely to be generated in this respect will be minimal and there will be no additional impacts over and above what already exists.”
Describing the development as a “much-needed upgrade to the existing site”, it says the proposals would “enhance Shamrock Park and the wider local area”.
“The site is an important parcel of open space, sports and recreational facility for Portadown and is an important local community asset, worthy of protection, upkeep and enhancement,” it says.
“The redevelopment of Shamrock Park represents an opportunity to provide more amenities to the local community, supporting many cultural, social, economic, health and environmental benefits.
“The proposal will future-proof an existing open space that will continue to serve local communities and supporters in the time ahead.”
The application will now be advertised shortly.