Play area will provide 15 jobs at newly-acquired Dairy Farm complex

Announcing plans for Roar and Explore are (from left) Noel Rooney, Ortus Property development executive, Catherine McClelland, Roar and Explore project manager, and Conor Smith, NIHE system manager social investment team

CONSTRUCTION on a state-of-the-art children’s indoor play facility at the Dairy Farm shopping centre - which is creating 15 jobs - will be completed next month, its owner Ortus Group has confirmed.

Called Roar and Explore, the play area will be located in the existing community hall at Dairy Farm, with access through the front of the centre and main mall.

The new facility will boast three party rooms, a café, a three-tier soft play area and a toddler and baby area all with a jungle theme throughout. The lower tier of the soft play area will also be interactive with disability access. In the evenings the facility will be available for community events, training and seminars.

The bespoke play frame has been specifically designed for the area by leading manufacturer SPI Global Play.

This announcement follows the acquisition of Dairy Farm shopping centre by the Ortus Group.

Ortus chief executive Seamus O’Prey said: “Dairy Farm is a prime location and we are excited by the growing opportunities available to us with the acquisition. We want to make this centre a place for the entire community to feel a part of and bring in visitors from across Northern Ireland.

"The first step is this development of the soft play area. There is a gap in the market in the Greater Belfast area for a central indoor play space that is exciting and different for children while also assisting parents with a range of advice sessions and support.

"We are currently working with several suppliers for the construction and will be recruiting from the local area for a variety of roles.”

The indoor play area will initially bring 15 jobs to the local area including management and catering roles. The business will be set up as a social enterprise with all profits being invested back into the area and community projects, through The Ortus Group.

Roar and Explore is primarily funded by the Ortus Group with additional grants of £50,000 each from both the NI Housing Executive and Groundworks NI Alpha Programme.

NIHE social enterprise liaison manager Paul Carland said: “We're committed to building vibrant and self-sustaining communities throughout our housing stock and these investments are a valuable means of doing so.

"By helping address issues of employability, the environment and building inward investments locally, we hope that our tenants’ quality of life and that of the wider community will be enhanced.”

Richard Rogers of the Alpha Programme, which is managed by Groundwork NI, added: "We hope this project will act as a catalyst for further regeneration in the area and that it provides an attractive venue for community activities, alongside its use as an indoor play area.”

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