Agenda item


            The Committee considered a report seeking approval to offer a Preferential Use Agreement to Glentoran Football Club at Blanchflower Playing Fields for limited access to the site for a period of two years.


            The Director of Neighbourhood Services reminded the Members that, the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, at its March 2018 meeting, had asked officers to undertake research into the provision of pitch facilities for Glentoran Football Club, including its youth academy. The Committee had further accepted the East Areas Working Group’s recommendation that a proposed capital programme to install a 3G pitch with floodlighting at King George V playing fields be replaced on the capital programme with a 3G pitch at Blanchflower playing fields.


            In addition, at its meeting in March 2019, the People and Communities Committee, had agreed to upgrade the facilities at King George V Playing Fields and to offer a Preferential Use Agreement for five years to Glentoran Youth Academy.


            The Director advised that the King George V Playing Fields were subject to a Deed of Covenant with Fields in Trust. The Council had been advised that local residents had written to Fields in Trust in opposition to the planned development of the site and management of bookings. Local residents had approached Council officers both formally and informally to protest about the proposal on a number of grounds, including traffic management, Fields in Trust requirements and floodlighting. Northern Ireland Water had also advised that it would require a section of the site for a prolonged period in relation to works on their water treatment plant nearby.


            The Members were advised that, during this period, significant investment had taken place to the football facilities in east Belfast, particularly at Blanchflower Playing Fields where the Council had developed two full size floodlit synthetic surface football pitches.  He reported that one of these pitches would be directly managed by Harland and Wolff Welders Football Club and the other by the Council.


            In summary, the Committee decision of March 2019 regarding the upgrade works at King George V Playing Fields had not been fulfilled, however, the availability of a new synthetic surface pitch at Blanchflower was imminent.


            The Director reported that Glentoran FC had written to the Council seeking approval for the previously approved Preferential Use Agreement at King George V Playing Fields to be transferred to Blanchflower Playing Fields. He reminded the Members that officers had previously been directed to present research into the provision of suitable and convenient pitch facilities for Glentoran Football Club, including its youth academy. This report presented an option which was not available to officers at that time and therefore needed to be considered on that basis.


            The Council was currently completing development of synthetic surface pitches in east Belfast including the pitches at Blanchflower playing fields and Avoniel Leisure Centre. It would likely take two years to understand the impact of these developments and how demand would be balanced across greater east Belfast. For this reason, it was proposed that the preferential use agreement should be of an interim nature and restricted to a maximum term of two years.


            He reported that officers had negotiated with Glentoran Football Club representatives to agree a proposed timetable of priority use at limited times for Glentoran Football Club for the duration of the agreement. He referred to the proposed timetable, below, which was reflective of Glentoran Football Club’s commitment to growing the game in an inclusive way with significant usage by groups under-represented in sport. The pitch would be available for bookings at all other times.


            Proposed timetable of priority use for Glentoran Football Club:





6:00pm 7:00pm

7:00pm 8:00pm


6:00pm 7:00pm

7:00pm 8:00pm


6:00pm 7:00pm

7:00pm 8:00pm


6:00pm 7:00pm

7:00pm 8:00pm








            Following a query from a Member in regard to pitch space for Harland and Wolf Welders Women’s Junior, the Director of Neighbourhood Services advised that this arrangement afforded Glentoran Football Club the first opportunity to book at the aforementioned times but if they did not require the slots they would be made available for other Clubs to book. 


            The Committee:


(i)     granted approval for a preferential use agreement to be developed with Glentoran Football Club, for a term of two years, in relation to the synthetic surface pitch at Blanchflower Playing Fields; and

(ii)    agreed to afford priority use of the pitch, at limited times, as detailed and subject to Glentoran Football Club continually providing a programme of use demonstrating significant inclusive use of the facility specifically for women and girls and people with a disability.


Supporting documents: