New Monkstown Boxing Club hub gets planning approval
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Senior planning officer Alicia Leathem told the committee the proposed three-storey development would be on the site of the existing club premises at Monkstown Road.
She indicated facilities at the new well-being hub would comprise a boxing club, gymnasium, classrooms and training rooms, music and dance studio, climbing zone, four social enterprise units, training kitchen, coffee dock, changing rooms, storage, staff offices, associated access, parking and landscaping.
She added the proposal will result in “significant community benefit” to include boxing and fitness and an education support programme in association with Abbey Community College.
The officer said approximately 3,000 young people will use the facility during the next ten years. She went on to say the proposed building is of “significant scale” with parking provision considered to be “adequate”.
She reported three objections to the proposal relating to design and scale, potential impact on wider services in the area, access and parking and loss of open space.
Planning agent David Mountstephen told the meeting the community consultation had been “very positive” with 150 “supportive submissions” and statutory consultees had no objections. “It is an important and high quality development,” he said.
Paul Johnston, project manager, Monkstown Boxing Club, said the “substantial application marks a significant point in the club’s history as it celebrates its 40th anniversary”.
“Monkstown Boxing Club is very appreciative of the support we have had over the past 30 to 40 years. We see this project as being a transformational opportunity for children and young people and older generations. It will definitely have an impact on young people.
“This project will further develop and grow a range of services impacting on some of the most vulnerable young people in our community.”
Threemilewater DUP Councillor Sam Flanagan asked how the transition to the new building will be managed. Mr Johnston responded the existing boxing club would be the last part to be demolished and sufficient works will be undertaken to enable boxing club activities to continue.
He went on to say the development will “meet demand which is unmet currently”. He described the proposal as a “once in a lifetime opportunity to transform a generation of young people”.
“We know first-hand the impact our programme has made,” he added. “We have had community consultation events. The response from that has been overwhelmingly positive.”
He stated the club has “tried to allay fears” locally over duplication of services and has “gone a step further” by inviting community partners to work with the organisation on a new board.
“It is definitely not our wish to duplicate any service or resources that is already there,” he stressed.
In response to a query from Glengormley DUP Cllr Alison Bennington about new activities, Mr Johnston noted a group from the club has returned recently from volunteering in an orphanage in South Africa.
“This will be a shared space with events to develop good relations programmes. We do envisage that footfall will multiply,” he explained.
Responding to a query over water-related issues, Barry Diamond, the council’s head of planning, said that development cannot commence until these are agreed with NI Water.
He also reported Department for Infrastructure Roads has “no objection to traffic generation” in the area although there is “some concern about adequate parking provision”. He noted there are 18 car parking spaces at present which are expected to double.
Macedon Alliance Cllr Billy Webb MBE moved the recommendation to approve the application, seconded by Threemilewater Ulster Unionist Cllr Stephen Cosgrove. After a vote, the application was approved unanimously.
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter