Park to close as work starts on £5m scheme

Portadown People's Park.
Portadown People's Park.

Portadown People’s Park is to close on Monday for 15 months as work gets under way on the £5.5million refurbishment.

The park will be transformed during the work, which is being undertaken by contractor Fox QMAC.

And a talent show and concert are being held on Friday, June 20, in Portadown Plaza to mark the start of work.

Once finished, the park will include themed gardens, a pavilion and play park, as well as two grass soccer pitches and one grass multisports pitch catering for Gaelic games, soccer, American football and rugby. There will also be a seven-a-side 3G synthetic pitch and a five-a-side multi-use games area (MUGA), both of which will be floodlit.

The park will also be totally replanted and there will be a new amphitheatre.

As well as enhancement works to the Tunnel area, a community engagement programme will also be conducted. This includes peace-building to respond to community needs, delivery of a host of events throughout the year and beyond and a funded publicity programme to keep the local community informed.

The project created deep divisions within Craigavon Borough Council, with the DUP claiming the park would never be a ‘shared space’ due to its location.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Councillor Kenneth Twyble, chairman of (SPACE) steering group. “We had thought that the park would close earlier in the year and I know that people wondered if it would ever happen. Now that day is here.

“We will keep people informed as to what’s happening in the park, but it’s great to see £5.5million being invested in Portadown.”

Sporting and community groups, commuters and other users of the park are being informed of the temporary closure.

People who take a short cut via the park will no longer be able to do so and will have to walk along Park Road.

The park will reopen in Autumn 2015.

The project is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the EU’s PEACE III Programme for Peace and Reconciliation.

Meanwhile, the start of the project is being marked by a Portadown’s Got Talent show. It will be hosted by John Daly and the judges will be Boyzone’s Shane Lynch, UTV’s Julian Simmons and Dwaine Smyth from the Meat Cleaver. The concert will feature X Factor winner Matt Cardle and local bands Microlip and Silhouette.

Auditions will take place on Thursday to choose the 10 top acts.