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Tyrone village hailed for vision of ambitious new facilities to meet population boom

Overall plans for Clonoe include football training fields, spectator stand, perimeter walkway, community hub meeting rooms, coffee shop and large outdoor play area

Mid Ulster District Council’s development committee has welcomed “very ambitious” plans put in place for the future benefit of a tiny Co Tyrone village.

Clonoe Rural Development Agency are hoping to improve the infrastructure of the village, near Dungannon, and ensure its residents have numerous place to socialise.

At a meeting of the council committee, members heard from John Paul O’Neill, who explained the association’s plans for the future and how it plans to use £50,000 funding given to it via council’s capital discretionary grant.

Mr O’Neill explained that over 400 homes have been built in Clonoe in the past 10 years and said the area has seen a “population explosion” as a result.

“We have loads of housing estates and roads going through Clonoe but, with the added population, where do our people have to meet and socialise?” he asked.

“One of the big things highlighted to us recently is there is nowhere for young mothers, children and infants to meet socially in a safe and playful environment.

“We see these segments of our community continuing to grow and we want to put in additional infrastructure.

“We have met over recent to years to devise a plan for the additional infrastructure. We want to develop our own 5km floodlit perimeter walkway around the development; community hub meeting rooms and outdoor coffee shop; large outdoor playground area; a wall ball area; spectator terrace and cover stand which will be fully accessible for wheelchair users and two new training football fields.”

He acknowledged these are ambitious long term targets and explained that phase one would see the creation of one full sized training field and spectator stand, which is where council’s money will be used.

“Phase one of our plan, for which we are applying for this grant, is to build one full size training field. We are well aware of how ambitious our plan is so what we are looking to do now is get one new training football field up and running,” he said.

“There will be full perimeter spectator fencing, ball catch-nets and associated car parking and necessary civil works. We have £300,000 in cash reserves and have £400,000 in terms of a credit facility so there is £700,000 waiting and ready to go.

“We are ready to pay for the work we want to achieve. Design consultants have been appointed and some of the advanced work like an archaeological dig and site clearance have been completed.”

Mr O’Neill explained CRDA hopes to appoint a contractor in the first quarter of next year with work to start in the spring and hopefully completed by late summer or early autumn 2023.

He added: “We believe we are well placed to deliver phase one of our project and we appreciate the opportunity from council to secure these funds and help make our vision a reality.”

Independent Councillor Dan Kerr said it was clear there is a “long term plan” in place and said Clonoe must be treated as a village going forward.

“Housing estates are going up left, right and centre and there is no better place to create this infrastructure than within the football club itself,” he said.

“The club provides a lot of resources to the local community and setting all rivalry aside I do wish you the best of luck with this project.”

SDLP group leader, Cllr Malachy Quinn said: “It was an excellent presentation. It will be a fantastic facility and hopefully, I know it is a long term goal, but it is something we can help with and I will give you all the support I can.”

Cllr Dominic Molloy wished CDRA all the best with their plans and also told the chamber “it is good to see it is involving the wider community and is not just football driven”.

His Sinn Fein party colleague, Cllr Niamh Doris praised the thought given to those with disabilities in these plans.

“Clonoe always has been above and beyond when it has come to thinking of people with disabilities and how they could be involved in their communities,” she said.

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