Plans for a new healthy living centre, based at Colin Community Allotments on the outskirts of Poleglass have been given the green light.
‘Edible education in an edible landscape’ is now on the agenda at the popular community facility, where dozens of local families are already befitting from fresh fruit and vegetables farmed on the site.
Around £250,000 of funding has been released to bring the healthy living centre to life, part financed by the European Union’s Programme for Peace and Reconciliation through the Sharing Our Space Programme and topped up with a £50,000 grant from the Alpha Programme.
Administered by Groundwork Northern Ireland, the Alpha Programme uses tax credits from the Mullaghglass Landfill Site – within walking distance of Colin Community Allotments – to fund grants for eco and community projects across Greater Belfast and Lisburn.
The new facility will allow more structured training for local people aiming to grow their own produce and the development of a small scale, social enterprise to create local employment opportunities in the ‘green jobs’ sector.
Groundwork Northern Ireland’s in-house architect was also involved in the planning process for the new centre, which will be incredibly eco-friendly.
Mick McEvoy, Community Gardener at Groundwork Northern Ireland, explains; “This will be an innovative building, based on the concept of ‘Cargotecture’, using pre used industrial shipping containers to form the basis of our new building.
“The entire centre will be environmentally sustaianble”
“On the roof we will have a bank of solar PV panels to provide energy and hopefully allow us to sell excess energy back to the grid which will generate some income for the project.
“This space will have a top quality working kitchen will be used as a headquarters for our courses in growing, cooking and everything that is ‘edible education’.
“It’s a game changer for this site – which is already hugely popular and has become an important community hub in recent years.
Michael George from Colin Neighbourhood Partnership said; “We have been working collectively on this project for the last two years and it continues to develop both in scale and in the range of activities the Partnership will provide.
“We are delighted the plans have been passed and are looking forward to this site being transformed into an environmental asset once phase two is complete.”