Richhill AFC have been given the thumbs up for a “multi-phase development plan” which will be a major sporting boost in the village.
A new pitch, floodlights and changing rooms are in the pipeline, as revealed by Armagh I in April of last year.
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.
ABC councillors endorsed planners’ recommendation for approval earlier this week.
The planning application was lodged by CT Lindsay Chartered Architect Ltd, on behalf of Richhill Amalgamated Football Club.
The matter was referred to the committee meeting as the ABC Council has an interest in the land.
Senior planning officer, Trudy Chapman told committee members why the Council was in favour of the planning application: “The proposal seeks to replace the existing grass playing surface with a 3G synthetic surface.
“An area of gravel hardstanding is to be provided around the edges of the pitch to provide a better visitor experience for the spectators who normally watch the matches from these areas.
“An additional nine car parking spaces are to be provided adjacent to the existing car park, on an area which is currently grass.
“The proposal also includes the provision of six 18-metre floodlights, with the lighting directed towards the pitch.
“Two small pre-fabricated buildings are to be erected. One is to be a small meeting area, and the other is to provide changing facilities.
“There is existing fencing around the pitch and a ball-stop netting behind both goals. This fencing and ball-stop netting is to be augmented, and the current gaps filled with new fencing and ball-stop netting. New fencing is also to be provided along both lengths of the pitch.
“Officers are of the view that this development will bring substantial community benefits by way of enhancing the existing facilities available at the site, and therefore providing an enhanced visitor experience.”
Councillor Scott Armstrong (DUP, Armagh DEA) welcomed the revamp plans: “It’s great to see that local football clubs are looking to develop their pitches and take good pride in them.
“As long as it’s meeting all the policies and the planners are happy enough with it, I think we can be nothing but supportive.
“I know that Richhill Football Club will be looking forward to having it, and when it comes to the rainy days they’ll not have to worry about flooding of pitches, which I’m sure a lot of clubs dealt with that over Christmas time.”
Alderman Gordon Kennedy (UUP, Cusher DEA) was equally positive about the plans: “I welcome this as well. It’s a thriving wee community hub there with a lot of youth teams and everything.
“An additional car park will be very welcome on a Saturday, and even through the week sometimes.
“It’s a very busy location, so I think it’s a a good development.”
Councillor Peter Lavery (Alliance, Lurgan DEA) believed the upgraded sports facility would be a major community asset.
“It seems to be very well thought out. It will improve value for the community, so I think the recommendation to approve is the right one in this instance,” he said.
Planning approval was proposed by Alderman Kennedy and seconded by Cllr Armstrong.