Richhill AFC is planning a major sporting boost in the village with proposals for a new pitch, floodlights and changing rooms in the pipeline, Armagh I can reveal.
And the overall development – which will benefit the local community and nearby Hardy Memorial Primary School – is part of larger expansion plans for the site at New Line.
An agreement between Richhill AFC and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council to take over the playing pitches at Richhill Recreation Centre on a long-term lease is reported to be “imminent”.
And an application has been lodged in the name of club chairman Neil Megaw for some exciting changes.
It is for the first phase of what is being described by chartered architect CT Lindsay as a “multi-phase development plan” for the site.
The intention in this first phase is to replace a grass pitch with a synthetic football pitch, the erection of floodlights and the installation of changing rooms and a meeting room.
ABC Council, which owns the property at New Line, has provided a letter of support to Richhill AFC in which it notes “officers are mindful that you are in the process of applying for funding to invest”.
And it confirms: “Whilst the council and the club have not yet entered a formal lease, the parties are working towards this and intend to have it in place imminently. The lease will pass full control of the property to the club (subject to any tenant covenants and landlord consents).”
According to the chartered architect, a long term lease with council will see Richhill AFC “take over the running and management of the football pitch at Richhill Recreation Centre”.
And it is a move which would “see a considerable improvement in the facility and will have benefit to the village of Richhill”.
The club will still have use of the Recreation Centre car park and is proposing to provide an additional nine spaces.
The buildings proposed are intended to be replaced with future phases of development.
The supporting statement explains: “The changing rooms are being purchased used from another local football club and a portacabin will serve as meeting room initially.
“These changing rooms are not wheelchair friendly, however, the club are able to access the facilities in the recreation centre if the need arises.
“Plans have already been developed for a more permanent structure and a further application will be submitted in due course.
“The pitch will be maintained and managed by the football club and they will be the primary users of the facility.
“However, it is intended that the facility will have a much wider community benefit.
“The nearby Hardy Memorial Primary School are keen to take up the offer to use the pitch for PE as they have very limited outdoor space.
“Other local football teams based in the village will also be able to avail of the facility and it is hoped that older members of the community will use the pitch as the club intends to form veterans teams.”
Meanwhile, the floodlights have been “carefully selected”, and “light spillage” will be limited by the use of LED. There will be “no light pollution to neighbouring houses or the nursing home”, according to the statement.
The proposals will now be advertised shortly with a decision expected in the next number of months.