Council aid for Co Down parish church with acute traffic problems and help for another to update facilities

Congregations of two neighbouring Church of Ireland parishes in Co Down have each received offers of grants of £10,000 from Lisburn and Castlereagh city council towards important improvement work at their churches.
St John's parish church, Newtownhamilton, Co Armagh  Picture: Billy MaxwellSt John's parish church, Newtownhamilton, Co Armagh  Picture: Billy Maxwell
St John's parish church, Newtownhamilton, Co Armagh Picture: Billy Maxwell

The Lisburn and Castlereagh council's community facities' fund will donate £10,000 to the congregation of the Church of the Ascension at Annahilt towards the re–location of the vehicular entrance to its parochial hall.

This will help to resolve an urgent safety concern that the parish has been seeking to address with the Roads Service, and their local council and politicians for the past 30 years.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Dromara parish (St John), meanwhile, has also received a grant of £10,000 towards the construction of a new disabled toilet facility in its church hall.

Speaking about the award, the rector of Dromara and Garvaghy, the Rev George Okikiolu said: “We are thankful to God and grateful to Lisburn and Castlereagh city council for this generous grant.

"The new facility will be of great benefit to the many local groups using our church hall every week and so enhance our ministry and outreach. It is also a project that helps the Parish to be fully compliant with the requirements around health and safety and safeguarding.”

Both Annahilt and Droma churches are rural churches deep in the Co Down countryside and have thriving congregations.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

At Annahilt, the church and church hall are situated on opposite sides of the very busy main road between Lisburn and Dromara with both existing entrances in the middle of a double or ‘S’ bend.

As parking is very limited beside the church building, most people when attending Sunday services, weddings, funerals or other events at the church need to park beside the hall and cross the road. The hall itself is well used for both parish and community activities.

There is also a constant flow of visitors into and out of the extensive graveyard. This significantly puts pedestrians at serious risk as they are crossing the road with minimal to no line of sight.

Drivers and their passengers are also at risk when they enter or exit the car park beside the hall via the existing access as they need to cross oncoming traffic either as they enter or exit the car park without an adequate line of sight.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As the ‘S’ bend will not be modified, the main advice from the Roads Service was that the church should seek to move the vehicle entrance for one or both properties.

Up until recently it has not been possible to take this forward as the surrounding land was either unsuitable for a new access point or not available.

Planning permission has been granted for the relocation of access to both the church and church hall.

Patricia Halliday, honorary treasurer of Annahilt parish, said: “The select vestry is grateful to Lisburn and Castlereagh city council for the funding towards this project which will be a major step forward in improving safety for parishioners, the many local groups that use the premises and also the large volume of traffic passing daily.”