This phase of the project, which is supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), will account for over £5.5M of the funding and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
The central development, will see the former forestry school building transformed into a visitor centre which will also serve as a shared community building with an open general area to complement the outside forest area.
It will offer a large multi-use space, complete with retractable seating for approximately 150 people, two multi-purpose rooms, a coffee dock area, toilets, changing facilities and kitchen.
The works also include the construction of a gym and changing facilities at Pomeroy GFC, a new multi-use games area at the Presbyterian Church Hall and a new Church of Ireland Hall to be built next to the old police barracks site which will include a main hall, office, ancillary toilets/storage facilities, reception hall and a kitchen.
The highly anticipated Public Realm Scheme in the village will get underway as part of the works and it will feature a new streetscape, street furniture, improved lighting with safe walking links created to the new shared facilities.
As part of the public realm works, improvements will be made to the Queen Elizabeth II Primary School, including new raised decking; and a new multi-use games area at the Presbyterian Church, including car parking, drainage, landscaping and fencing.
These works will be enhanced further with the creation of educational and magical trails through Pomeroy Forest, due to commence later this year.
The central objective of the PEACE IV project in Pomeroy is to create a more cohesive society through an increased provision of shared spaces and services and to increase the number of people who would define their neighbourhood as neutral.
Gina McIntyre who is the Chief Executive of the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), welcomed the start of construction works. She said: “Unfortunately, communities throughout our region remain segregated with divisions occurring both physically and psychologically.
“The shared spaces theme in PEACE IV, which includes this Connecting Pomeroy project, provides an opportunity to bring communities together through common interests, such as sport, education and nature.
“I am delighted to see this project taking such a significant step as work commences on the new visitor centre. The EU PEACE IV Programme has a key objective of providing a range of spaces, services and programmes which will bring groups and individuals together allowing new relationships to be built now and into the future.
“I look forward to seeing this new facility completed, and I would like to congratulate the Connecting Pomeroy team for such hard work and dedication through the last few difficult years, in bringing us to this important stage in the project.”
Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Córa Corry said the start of the work was a seismic moment for everyone involved with the ambitious and visionary plan.
“This project has involved many hours of careful planning and preparation and it is wonderful to see the construction teams now on the ground,” she said.
“Once completed the Connecting Pomeroy project will enhance this scenic village and it will make a hugely positive impact on the community and create shared spaces for our young and future generations.
“These are exciting times for the people of Pomeroy, and I look forward to seeing the various elements of this project become a reality in the months ahead.”
This latest investment in the village follows on from the recent completion of £197K works to the courtyard area and car park at Pomeroy Forest.
The Connecting Pomeroy project is supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).
Delivery of the initiative is being spearheaded by a community partnership and co-ordinated by Mid Ulster District Council. Match-funding has been provided by The Department for Communities Northern Ireland and The Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.
For more on the Connecting Pomeroy project, see: www.midulstercouncil.org/connectingpomeroy