Bloomfield Walkway Community Centre, Belfast

The Bloomfield Walkway Community Centre has finally opened its doors to the local residents in a brand- new building delivered by McKelvey Construction. In this £1.37m project, the original portable modular building was demolished to be replaced by a new 575 square metre build. The two storeys comprise a creche and soft play area, a 250 sqm sports hall with soft landing flooring, a kitchen, bathrooms and a series of multipurpose rooms for meetings and courses aimed at the local people. 

“McKelvey Construction is proud to serve the community by providing them with places to both work and play,” commented McKelvey Construction Managing Director Darren McKelvey. “The main elements of the brief were the multipurpose rooms, as the Walkway Community Association offers courses and support for families and single parents living in the area, as well as the creche, which was added later on to the original project.”


McKelvey Construction started by removing the original modular building and garden, and levelling the site. “As the Centre is located on a busy street and the space around it is limited, we had to engage heavy traffic management plans to guarantee local access to residents, as well as the overall safety of the area,” Darren explained. The work commenced at the end of 2020 and, unfortunately, was yet another project to be delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, as health measures had to be put into place. 

The team had already moved on to work on the first storey when a change in the ground floor layout also ended up further delaying the completion deadline. “The client wanted to include a creche area, so the project had to go back into planning and get permission,” Darren said. “We also had to change the access routes into the building.

Inclusive approach 

The brief for the building of the new Bloomfield Walkway Community Centre also included important social value points, as McKelvey Construction was encouraged to hire not only apprentices but also professionals who had been on long-term unemployment to promote a more inclusive approach to the project. “We hired a number of apprentices and people who had been out of a job for a long time, and it was a great experience,” Darren commented. In true community spirit, normally McKelvey Construction hosts talks about their work for leavers from local secondary schools to show how a project is managed and the building is carried out, as a way to inspire young people to consider construction as a viable career. “Normally we have these sessions at the local schools, but with Covid-19, we had to host them at the building site,” Darren explained. “But it was great, as they got to see how everything works first-hand. We had two sessions with local East Belfast secondary schools.” 

Darren also commented on the current skills and apprentice shortage in the construction industry. 

“For many young people, a job in a building project may not sound very favourable at first, especially with the uninviting weather in Northern Ireland. Maybe the new generation will be more interested in positions in the pre-built construction job market.”

Making a difference

McKelvey Construction had worked with subcontractors Devlin Mechanical and AM Electrical NI previously in other projects and, even though the team had to face challenges such as the pandemic backlash, the project ran smoothly. “It was all worthwhile, the results are very good,” Darren stated. “We hope it will make a difference in the daily life of the local community.”

Whether it is refurbishing and updating sports facilities or giving young people a place to socialise after school, building contractors McKelvey Construction is known for the quality of their construction and refurbishments in the sports and leisure sector. Their past projects have enriched the lives of locals, brought joy to visiting tourists, and best of all, been carried out with the professionalism and expertise required to finish construction on time and under budget. With over 25 years of experience, their portfolio also features high-quality projects in the education, health, housing and commercial sectors. 

For the full feature on Bloomfield Walkway, check out NI Builder Issue 34-2 April-May here.