Newforge Sports Complex & Event Hub, Belfast

Sustainability and social cohesion are at the heart of a complex project for main contractor OHMG…

Newforge Sports Complex & Event Hub is a £5.8m shared space development, located on the 16-hectare site of a former police sports centre in South Belfast.

The visionary project was conceived by Newforge Community Development Trust (NCDT) with the aim of transforming a once-restricted facility into a community space supporting peace and reconciliation throughout Northern Ireland and the cross-border region.

Facilitating co-existence between cross-community, youth and sports clubs, schools, churches, locals and members of the security, emergency and armed forces across the island, it is aiming to achieve Disability Sport NI’s Inclusive Sports Facility Excellence mark.

OHMG was appointed as main contractor for the complex project, which required the Newforge Country Club to remain operational throughout the works.

Support from the EU’s PEACE IV Programme was matched-funded by the NI Department for Communities and Irish Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland, with £1m also coming from Sport NI’s Multi-Facility Fund.

Commencing in April 2021 and completing in February 2024, the 5,286sqm space comprises a shared reception, large twin-court sports hall with dividing curtain, fitness suites, treatment and changing rooms, multi-purpose spaces, refreshment area, office and conference rooms, parking and landscaping.


Sustainability and social value targets have been a focus throughout the works, with OHMG setting its sights on the installation of renewable technologies and exceeding its social value goals by achieving a buy-social target of over 350%.

OHMG’s environmental management plan implemented throughout the works extended from controlling noise, mud and dust to retaining trees and protecting nesting birds, bats and the insect population. The works extended as far as the busy Lagan Towpath, on which wildlife surveys were conducted before works could start.

Accredited to the ISO 14001/14064 standard for verifying emissions, the complex features a high level of insulation and air tightness, solar panels and systems for passive cooling and sustainable drainage. A site waste management plan, meanwhile, diverted 93% of waste from landfill. The project scored a high 41/45 in the Considerate Constructors Scheme, with OHMG hosting stakeholder site visits and conducting presentations to seven local schools. As well as monthly meetings with NCDT to review KPIs, performance targets and stakeholder satisfaction, the contractor facilitated site visits by government representatives and end-users throughout the project. 

Management of public impact during works included liaising with the local community via a regular newsletter and implementing a traffic-management plan to segregate traffic.

Materials were off-loaded on site, with monitoring stations in place for noise, dust and vibrations, while OHMG re-designed a foul drain to protect a public walkway and mature trees and reduced significantly the impact on the local ecology.

A 3D augmented reality tool was used to improve coordination and aid with clash detection, with weekly team meetings held to raise any technical issues and review upcoming works and challenges.

Early engagement with the supply chain generated value-engineering opportunities for OHMG, for example exchanging a proposed retaining wall for dwarf wall kerbing. 

Using directional drilling to reroute foul drainage and avoid a public pathway through woods reduced the need for excavation or manholes, minimising disruption for the community, natural fauna and wildlife. To manage costs, OHMG established agreed change order procedures and continuously monitored the budget throughout the project.

Effective management of the programme included off-site fabrication when possible, and early identification to get ahead on long-lead Items.

Following accredited ISO45001 standards, OHMG placed an emphasis on health and safety throughout the project including fire marshal training.

Responsibilities were allocated via its H&S Plan, with H&S Manager Gavin Blaney liaising with HSENI and closely monitoring the works, conducting safety audits and identifying non-compliances during the team’s weekly meetings.

Further, briefings highlighting any risks and a boundary check to maintain security were held daily, while access to the works was strictly controlled by a gateman who was extremely helpful to all parties involved.

Cathal O’Hare, Director, said, “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Newforge Community Development Trust team, ISF, Sports NI, the project team and supply chain for their professionalism, dedication and vision throughout the project. It has been a pleasure working closely with them all and learning from their insights and experience.

“OHMG is very proud of the finished product, and to see it being used so much is a testament to the Newforge Community Development Trust in the work it does for the local and greater area.”

Bell CB Contracts supplied painting and flooring services to Newforge Sports Complex & Event Hub.

The Belfast-based business delivered internal redecoration, a sports floor replacement including all line markings, and new carpets and vinyl flooring throughout the new building.

Special attention was given to the painting and flooring to make every area accessible, presenting unique challenges which were collaboratively overcome with the client. At the heart of the facility is a modern multi-sport indoor arena, now the home of the Belfast Stars basketball team, capable of hosting basketball, badminton and volleyball tournaments.

Additional amenities include fitness suites, treatment rooms, changing rooms, a shared reception, multi-purpose spaces, a refreshment area and office and conference rooms.

This project stands as a testament of OHMG’s commitment to creating a building which will leave a lasting legacy for sports in NI. Bell CB Contracts takes great pride in its contribution and eagerly anticipates supporting the Belfast Stars in their new home.

CB Contracts became part of The Bell Group, the largest family-owned painting business in the UK, in 2021.

A leading UK property services contractor, in terms of both geographical coverage and its directly-employed workforce, the Group has been family owned and operated since 1988.

It offers a full spectrum of property services including planned and project works in painting, roofing, flooring, passive and active fire protection, kitchen and bathroom replacements, multi-disciplinary fabric upgrades, retrofit and energy services, disrepair works and response and void maintenance contracts, delivered by expert teams across 37 branches.

Project team…
Client: Newforge Community Development Trust
Main contractor: OHMG
Architect: Hamilton Architects
Project manager: esc Construction Consultants
M&E, civil & structural engineer: Tetra Tech

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