£4.5m Glen Community Centre opens in Belfast
Apex’s new £4.5m community resource centre at the Lenadoon/Suffolk interface in Belfast known as the Glen Community Complex, was officially opened on 2nd October 2014 by the Minister for Social Development, Mervyn Storey.
This completes the redevelopment of the former Colin Glen Bacon Factory site where, in addition to the new centre, Apex has provided 120 family houses. The new Glen Community Complex has been funded by approximately £4m from the EU’s PEACE III Programme and a further £0.5m from Atlantic Philanthropies. The site was provided by Apex at no cost to the project.
Community support services
The new Complex will house much needed community support services which include crèche facilities, after school clubs, healthy living programmes, education and training, family support, counselling and youth services. These will be provided by the Glen Community Parent Youth Group, Lenadoon Community Forum, Lenadoon Women’s Group and the Suffolk Lenadoon Interface Group. Together, the services provide a one- stop-shop catering for the general needs of the community, from the very young to the very old.
The building includes a large multi-functional hall which can be used for sports, drama, concerts, etc., and a number of well-equipped meeting rooms. The Emerald Boxing Club also has its own space within the Complex and to help with financial sustainability there are also three retail units for leasing to private operators.
Although the former Bacon Factory was in a very poor state of repair when acquired by Apex in 2003, some of the above community providers delivered services from it. Following a successful funding application and the temporary relocation of these services to other work places nearby, Apex appointed a specialist contractor in 2010 to demolish the vacant building and clear the site. Planning permission for the new Complex was obtained in 2012 and construction began later that year.
Speaking at the official opening, Martin Doherty, Chairperson of Apex said:
We are delighted to have played our part in the delivery of this impressive building. This hugely important project will serve the Lenadoon and Suffolk communities well for many years to come, providing shared space to support the delivery of community priorities”.
He congratulated all the partners and stakeholders involved in the project including the funders, the design team, the contractor and the service provider on their magnificent achievement.
Minister Storey congratulated Apex and all involved in the project saying
this development is a major boost for local community groups and for local residents. This magnificent facility will allow essential child care, youth and educational services to be safeguarded and to grow.”
Acknowledging the contribution of the community groups involved in the development he added,
the Executive’s agenda for addressing disadvantage recognises the need to build connected, cohesive and engaged communities. This investment will go a long way to achieve that aim here in west Belfast and is a vote of confidence to this community.”
Welcoming the new complex, Lorraine McCourt, Director with the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), responsible for the management of the EU’s Peace III Programme, said
This new EU funded facility will create a truly shared space for local people, on a cross-community basis. It will also create a long-term and sustainable platform for the many different peace and reconciliation activities taking place in the local area. I sincerely congratulate all those involved in its development and look forward to hearing more about how it will enhance community service provision within the Lenadoon and Suffolk estates in the future.”