To provide a community building that would be self-sustaining has been the main aim of Monkstown Community Forum since its formation in 1995. However one set back after another occurred during the early years. It was a time when government agencies didn’t only change their names but also their boundaries. Sometimes Monkstown was in, sometimes it was out.
By 1999 enthusiasm for such an ambitious project was low. During that year an economic appraisal was commissioned by the then Newtownabbey Borough Council to consider again the proposed development of a multi-purpose facility in the Monkstown area, on the Green Hut site. This proposal arose out of the need for better facilities in Monkstown. This project would be to benefit groups using the Green Hut, but also meet the demand for appropriate space for commercial and business units. The facility was designed to meet the identified needs in Monkstown as well as the surrounding area.
The new building has allowed Monkstown Community Forum, its members and the people of Monkstown to develop local pride in a centre situated in a position which, for many people, still signifies the entrance to Monkstown. It offers a mix of facilities for community-based groups as well as commercial space for businesses, business support services and office accommodation.
Monkstown Village Centre has 17 commercial units and has already provided over 60 employment opportunities.
The building project became a reality with the following assistance:
International Fund for Ireland
Northern Ireland Housing Executive
Newtownabbey Borough Council
Newtownabbey Local Strategy Partnership
Newtownabbey Environmental Action Team (Admin. by Groundwork)
Ulster Garden Villages
Ulster Community Investment Trust
The Business Development Manager’s funding was through the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (until November 2008) and furnishings etc. provided by Lloyds/TSB Foundation for NI and The Irelands Fund. Invest Northern Ireland also provided assistance through the Social Entrepreneurship Programme.