The proposal includes the demolition of the existing boxing club building and the construction of a community well-being hub ‘The Box’ on the site and lands to the rear at Cashel Drive.
This will comprise of a new boxing club, gym, classrooms and training rooms, music and dance studio, climbing zone, four social enterprise units, training kitchen, coffee dock, changing rooms, storage, offices and landscaping. The number of car parking spaces is expected to double to 36.
A Pre-Application Community Consultation Report says that 126 people who attended a public engagement event at Abbey Community College in February signed “feedback sheets”.
Twenty-two letters of support have been received by planners. The report noted that all 126 responses received indicated that ‘The Box’ would be “good for the community”.
Comments included: “It will be an asset to all ages in the community. It is exciting for the area and will be a breath of fresh air.”
“One hundred per cent what the community needs. I have lived in the Monkstown area all my life and unfortunately, there has never been enough for youth (and families). Hopefully programmes, leisure facilities etc will discourage drug and alcohol abuse (in the young at least).
“It will be a real asset in a community that needs a lift. Currently the work Monkstown Boxing Club do is amazing.”
Commenting on the proposed design, respondents praised the “contemporary, modern design, the positive impact on the area, the ease of access for all ages, the good use of the site and the thought given to the lay-out of all the facilities”.
Two queried whether the car park was “adequate”; one replied that the building was “a bit box-like”; one suggested that there should be “a connection to the Woodland Trust walk”.
It was also stated: “The design will give a better look for Monkstown and it will stand out.”
Letters of support were received from East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson; MLAs John Blair; Phillip Brett; David Hilditch; Gordon Lyons and John Stewart as well as the Department for Communities (Community Empowerment Division); Northern Health and Social Care Trust; Public Health Agency.
The education sector has also registered support with letters from the University of Ulster, Abbey Community College and Controlled Schools’ Support Council.
There were support from Listening Ear; Abbey Sure Start; Bytes and Thrive organisations as well as 18th Newtownabbey Old Boys FC; Medsafe Consultancy; His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim. There were submissions from Monkstown Community Forum, Abbey Presbyterian Church and the Church of the Good Shepherd, Monkstown.
“In conclusion, there was widespread support for the proposed development during the pre-application community consultation process” the report said.
“It has confirmed that the proposed development has significant and widespread support from the local community and that it will deliver significant benefits to the community.”
Commenting on the proposals, the club’s project manager, Paul Johnston MBE, said: “The club submitted a planning application to ANBC in April. We are awaiting the application to be assessed.
"Once the application has been approved we will be exploring funding opportunities with a view of securing funding for a start date in 2024.”
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter