THE refurbishment of Broughshane’s former police station and the development of eight sheltered housing units for the elderly has been hailed as a community success story.
Broughshane and District Community Association say they are delighted with the progress on the innovative project.
The community association was one of eight organisations selected to pilot the ‘NI Executive Policy Framework for Community Asset Transfer’ - essentially a process which puts properties formerly owned by statutory agencies back into the hands of local people..
When it was announced that the former police station in the village was being disposed as surplus by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the community association spotted an opportunity and expressed an interest in acquiring the station on behalf of the local community.
Today, villagers and visitors alike see a busy commercial enterprise space and new housing emerging at the rear of the building unaware of the hard work and the volunteer hours committed to ensure the building came into the ownership of the local people.
Lexie Scott, Chairman of the association commented: “Working in partnership with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and Triangle Housing Association, Development Trusts Northern Ireland, Department for Communities, and the NI Housing Executive the community association is delighted to be developing a project which will be sustainable.”
With the help of these agencies the community association successfully brought match funding to the project to ensure its success.
Sandy Wilson Vice-Chairman added: “The project has shown how a former public building can be repurposed to meet local needs.”
Nigel Kinnaird, Chairman of Development Trusts Northern Ireland said: “The police station now stands as a beacon of community endeavour. It is at the heart of rural regeneration and local economic development bringing people and place together”
Connor Smyth from the Housing Executive Social Investments Team said “The Housing Executive is delighted to have supported the refurbishment of Broughshane’s former PSNI station as part of our Social Housing Enterprise Programme, a development that we hope will increase economic activity in the area and meet some of the current demand for active elderly housing.”
Chair of Mid and East Antrim’s Economic Growth and Tourism Committee, Alderman Gregg McKeen, said: “Council has been working with Broughshane & District Community Association from the outset of this project and through funding support has enabled the group to purchase the station and regenerate the listed building.
I am truly excited that the building works are well underway. This is a fabulous project that will bring economic benefits to the village of Broughshane, the UK’s Village of the Year.”
Alderman McKeen added: “Our Community Plan, Putting People First, is a blueprint to how we as a Council can help make our borough an ideal place to live, work, visit and invest in.
Earlier this year we launched Amplify, our economic strategy for Mid and East Antrim, and it is aimed at supporting the growth of the social enterprise sector to inspire, create and support self-sustainability.
Through this work, many community groups and social enterprises have been encouraged and supported to develop and enhance facilities for the benefit of the local community.”
Raymond Nicholl, Director of Housing and Development at Triangle Housing Association said “Triangle is delighted to be involved in this innovative project which is being delivered in partnership with Broughshane and District Community Association.
“This development is the outcome of close collaboration with the community group over many years. It delivers retail and office facilities and social enterprise space, which will contribute to the future sustainability of the community association.
“ It is also providing much needed sheltered housing for the elderly, on a site right in the heart of the village.
“ We are confident that this project will deliver many social and economic benefits to the local community. We are grateful to all the agencies such as the Department for Communities, Mid and East Antrim Council, the Housing Executive, and the Development Trust NI, whose support has helped to make this development possible”.