SCOTCH Street has been given a huge boost with confirmation this week of a £48,750 lottery grant to help redevelop the old sewage works site in the village.
The grant will fund new premises for Richmount Pre-School Playgroup, three incubator business units and also pay for car parking and site works.
A prefabricated building, which will be used as a community hall, has already been bought and is due to be erected shortly on the Derrylettiff Road site.
Joe Garvey, chairman of Richmount Rural Community Association, said the grant would “put a heart into the village of Scotch Street and provide a base for social activities in the surrounding rural areas”.
He said the entire development, to be known as Richmount Centre, should be ready by April.
The grant has been awarded by the Big Lottery Fund’s Village SOS scheme, which supports rural communities across the UK.
The playgroup, which opened in September, has 12 pupils, and is expected to have filled its quota of 16 by January; the new building will provide accommodation for 24 children. Meanwhile, the community hall will provide a meeting place for local residents as well as services for men and older people, along with classes and social events.
Mr Garvey said, “The community building will allow us to establish a Men’s Shed project at the site, which is a scheme specifically for older men which can be helpful in developing news skills, improving on old ones or just a meeting place for men to socialise.
“We have a high proportion of older people particularly in the rural area and this grant will provide the base to offer dedicated services for this group. We are also conscious of the need for small starter businesses in the area and we would hope our incubator units can give people the premises from which to operate a small business at an affordable cost.”
He added, “The village of Scotch Street has seen its population rise from 200 to over 1,000 in the past 10 years, but this was not matched by community facilities. Our new community hall, which will be based at the Richmount Centre, ... will really make a difference to the quality of life of residents in the greater Richmount area.
“We will also be able to provide a dedicated building specifically for the local playgroup which is currently operating in classroom in the local primary school but with the school due to expand, the grant could not have come at a better time.”
To date, the project has received a grant of £15,000 from the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, used to buy the hall, and one of £3000 from the Public Health Agency to provide a small community garden and small children’s play area.
It is also confident it can attract at least another £12,000 to help equip the community hall.
Welcoming the new playgroup premises, Claire Acheson, playgroup leader, said, “We can now look ahead to a very bright future for the playgroup but our overriding priority will remain the same - the children. We aim to give children the best foundation and opportunity to fulfil their potential when they start primary school.”
The playgroup is holding an open night next Thursday, December 5 at Richmount Primary School from 7-9pm. Everyone is welcome.