THE Lakeland Forum should be knocked down and moved elsewhere is the verdict of a prominent Fermanagh business figure.
Terry McCartney, who owns the Belmore Court & Motel in Enniskillen and is also a board member of Tourism NI, insists that by re-locating the leisure centre to another part of town, the Broadmeadow could be re-vitalised into an “entertainment hub”.
A new-look Forum has been earmarked for a revamp with the Council receiving a £20 million boost last week from the UK Government to make this vision a reality.
However, Mr McCartney feels that a big chance may go a begging to not only maintain a leisure facility for Enniskillen but to create an area of shops and eating spots that will have many flocking to the centre of town.
He said: “Personally, and I’ve said this before to the Council, the area should be used for restaurants, cafes and little boutiques. Not for a leisure centre.
“That would generate more business for the town centre with the leisure centre being re-located.
“The leisure centre won’t be available for at least two years with everyone missing out on their swimming. They missed out on it for a year and a half (due to the pandemic).
“While I welcome any investment for Fermanagh, my concern would be that while the design for the new facility looks good, it is just situated in the wrong place.”
As to where the Forum should be, McCartney states that other such facilities elsewhere are outside of the centre and areas that serve the local community well.
He added: “I’ve used the facilities for a long time and they have been in need of an upgrade.
Terry McCartney: “We have a facility there in the Broadmeadow that is absolutely fantastic but
would it be lovely to have an entertainment hub.”
“However, whenever we go to other towns and cities that have leisure centres, they tend to be in more community-based locations. Normally in socially under-privileged areas with those facilities providing ease of access and employment for those areas.
“They are usually in those areas rather than being in a prime position in the middle of a town.
“When you’re in a swimming pool, on the whole you are there to swim – not to look out onto the frontage. That’s been a problem for quite a while.”
One other possibility would be to mirror what the city of Lisburn has with its Leisureplex facility that has a leisure centre, restaurants, cinema and bowling alley all situated in the one place with a nearby hotel.
“We have a facility there in the Broadmeadow that is absolutely fantastic but would it be lovely to have an entertainment hub,” continued McCartney. “You can still have your water-sports down there but a leisure centre by its nature is a monstrosity of a building because of all the engineering works.
“Unfortunately, the Forum is situated in the wrong place. If the Council want to help tourism and boost visitor numbers, they need to look at a wet weather centre like Lisburn Leisureplex – something that’s going to encourage both the locals and people from outside the area to come and stay.”
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