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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Council approves new ball stop fence at Showgrounds

Ballymena Showgrounds.

Ballymena Showgrounds. (Image: INPHO/Evan Logan)

A Mid and East Antrim councillor has highlighted the need for a ball stop fence around football pitches adjacent to neighbouring properties.

Coast Road DUP Councillor Angela Smyth was commenting as the borough council’s Planning Committee considered an application for a ball stop at Ballymena Showgrounds.

The barrier has been proposed between one of the pitches and a new link road. The ball stop fence will be four metres high with netting 12 metres in height.

The new thoroughfare connects Broughshane Road to Larne Road Link and has been named St Patrick’s Link by the local authority.

Speaking at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Planning Committee on Thursday, Bannside DUP Alderman Tom Gordon said:

“This application has come about because of the construction of this new road from the Ecos Centre to Larne Road Link. The ball stop fence is required at this location. I would be glad to propose we accept the officer’s recommendation.”

Cllr Smyth stated: “I am happy to second but I do believe this ball stop fence should be considered around nearly any football places.”  She noted that an application approved in Islandmagee outside Larne recently “did not get one”.

Cllr Smyth said: “I believe we will have residents complaining in a couple of years and it is of no fault of the football club because they were already there. I just want to raise this again. I think we should be considering these nets around all football facilities.”

Committee Chair Larne Lough Alliance Ald Robert Logan said: “The Planning Committee will consider that in the future.”

Sinn Fein Coast Road Cllr James McKeown quipped: “It is typical of Ballymena to build a new road where there is a possibility of a football coming onto it.”

The application was approved unanimously.

Islandmagee Football Club has said previously it would fear for its future if it has to foot the bill for a ball stop net at its Middle Road ground.

A council officer’s report to elected members stated:

“Islandmagee Football Club have concerns with housing backing into their pitch and are of the opinion that a ball stop fence should be erected along the length of the back gardens.”

The officer commented however, that this was “considered to be unreasonable and unenforceable” as a number of residents would have to “take responsibility” for it.

Islandmagee Football Club has said it would be willing to take responsibility for its upkeep and would be willing to negotiate with the developer.


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