1. What is the proposed BYC development plan?
Throughout our history, BYC members have added or improved the infrastructure of the club. Over the last 15/20 years BYC committees have sought major redevelopment of the clubhouse and grounds, initially as part of the Olympic Legacy project of which Bangor Aurora was part, and although BYC was successful to stage 4, funding was pulled. Over the last 10 years we have been lobbying Sport NI and the Council to explore other options.
A ”once in a lifetime” opportunity arose through the Belfast Regional City Deal for major capital funding and following an EGM in November 2019 our members voted to engage in a consultation process with Ards and North Down Borough Council with a view to being included in their Waterfront Regeneration Scheme. As part of this consultation process a committee of club members was established to work with the council and their consultants, Aecom. This collaboration resulted in an outline business case being submitted which included a proposal for the redevelopment of Ballyholme Yacht Club. In January 2022 it was announced that the ANDBC submission had been successful and UK and NI Ministers signed the first Belfast Regional City Deal.
Whilst there is still a lot of work to be done, the funding, which will be in the form of a grant, has been approved and BYC has an opportunity to redevelop our site and facilities. The proposal, which will remain under our current lease, will include a new clubhouse and upgrades to the grounds and slipways.
The BYC redevelopment is standalone. The other four schemes within the Bangor Waterfront Redevelopment, including the proposed Kingsland redevelopment are separate from the BYC development plan.
2. Under this proposal will the club still be a member only club?
Yes, the plan would be to grow membership and provide more access to the water for our members through sailing and other watersports. The facility will continue to be operated by BYC with increased staff numbers to facilitate activities and support volunteers.
BYC will continue to offer its facilities to the wider water sports community for events and training. Some new membership options may be explored as part of an operating plan but BYC will remain as a membership club.
3. Will members have to contribute to the costs?
As mentioned above it is thought the funds will be in the form of a grant and ANDBC are currently awaiting the Heads of Terms from Belfast Region City Deal/Dept of Finance. It is understood that the funding for this project will not cover the cost of a new members bar so the operational plan will develop a strategy for funding this area and will be shared with members.
4. Will the club be open to the public?
The club will continue to be open to the public for open events, training and groups that hire our facilities. This is similar to the current situation although a bigger and more professionally run training section will increase access for both members and the public with more opportunities to enjoy the water.
5. Why are we currently engaging in this?
Our existing buildings, parks and facilities are old with many reaching the end of their life and maintenance and repairs are costly. The proposed redevelopment provides a new, larger, state-of-the-art facility and upgraded dinghy parks and slipways. This will provide a better membership experience for current and future generations and help in attracting world class events.
6. What happens if we decide against the development?
The club continues as is.
For many years now, successive BYC Executive Committees have struggled over whether to upgrade the existing facilities or rebuild, and in either case, how to finance it. Large capital grants are becoming a rarity for sports clubs. A lot of Committee effort goes into applying for these grants and on the planning/construction works.
We would potentially require higher membership fees and/or a levy to pay for major maintenance to the facilities. The volunteer committees will continue to struggle to finance and manage upgrades.
7. What are the benefits to the Members?
Members will benefit from a new building and upgraded external features and new training equipment. A sustainable building will offer more space and better facilities for members, with a potential for an increased and more diverse range of activities, including more and larger social events.
An enlarged training set-up, managed by a watersports manager, capable of providing training and coaching in sailing and other watersports which will benefit members and continue to generate income from non-members. This will be developed organically with staff matched to the revenue generated from activities.
We will be the premier watersport centre in N. Ireland and will be in a much better position to attract top national and international watersport events.
8. Where are we currently at in the process?
The funding has been agreed and signed. ANDBC is awaiting Heads of Terms for the funding which will then be disseminated to BYC for approval at an EGM. This has been delayed but the council is hopeful of movement on this in the next few months.
In the meantime, we are continuing to work with the council on contractual items, and the development of a client specification and operating plan.
9. What is the time frame for the creation of the design?
Subject to Heads of Terms and agreement to proceed from BYC members it is hoped design can commence in late 2022 or 2023, with completion of construction in 2027.
10. Will we be able to input what we want from the new facilities?
Yes. A programme will be developed for participation of members throughout the design process.
11. Will members be involved in the development of the Operating plan?
Yes, this will be developed by a new sub-committee reporting to the Exec and include individuals with a variety of skill sets.
Currently this is being developed by the Redevelopment Team, but additional resources, both internal and external, are envisaged as the work progresses.
12. Do the proposed plans include disabled access to the water?
We have included this in the design specification and the budget, and it will require a feasibility study to assess options.
13. Will the club be expected to host more events?
We already host several large events a year. In 2022 we have four sailing events, a swimming event and a windsurfing event. The Outline Business Case estimated by year 5 post construction BYC will, with support from the increased water sport staff, be able to support on average 1 International sailing event, 1 National and 2-3 Provincial events per annum. Plus watersports events, e.g. swimming and windsurfing.
We welcome the opportunity to host events at BYC. It brings prestige to the Club, it generates extra funds, and major events are a big encouragement to our young (and some not so young!) members, when internationally famous athletes appear to compete.
We understand that some events create an interruption to dinghy park places, but we are seeking formal agreement with ANDBC to make extra space available in the tennis court area or sunken gardens for boat and trailer parking during events.
We envisage that smaller events can be run without causing disruption to normal sailing and other watersport activities.
14. Will the club close for a period of time while the work is being done?
Depending on the location of the new facility there will be a period of disruption. The design team will develop a construction plan. The plan may include phased construction and temporary facilities to maintain activities on the water and the potential use of adjoining council space may be explored for contractors’ facilities, boat storage, etc.
15. Who will run the new facility?
The new clubhouse and facilities will be managed and operated by Ballyholme Yacht Club. We are looking at different examples of club operating plans across the UK and beyond to maximise the potential of any new training and shore facilities. We will liaise with Council departments to help attract events and help maximise use of the new clubhouse by our members and the local community.