The Gateway on the outskirts of Ballymena is one of the most ambitious private developments ever undertaken in Northern Ireland, Green Pastures spokesperson Jason Kennedy says: "We believe that the Church of Jesus Christ should have a relevant and influential position at the heart of the community. We are focused on meeting the needs of our local communities and committed to bringing the hope of the Gospel of Jesus to the local area.
"The new facility is the first stage of a larger, long term not-for-profit legacy project, desiring to play a part in bringing spiritual, social and economic revival to our city."
The 12,000m2 church facility comprises a 1,650 seat auditorium with wrap around malls and recreational, training and other ancillary facilities all extending across some 24 acre site, where the complex roof construction is making use of Magply boards as part of a high performance specification.
Located on the outskirts of the town, the project has taken shape due to the rapid growth in popularity of the Green Pastures Church, with planning permission having been obtained to include other activities, which will be of such value to the people of County Antrim.
The Green Pastures Church is currently located in a smaller purpose built facility in Galgorm, Ballymena and has sold its current facility to adjacent business, WrightBus. In 2016, however, the church leadership team signed a multi-million pound contract with main contractor Martin & Hamilton to construct what has been described as a state-of-the-art - church facility the like of which has not been see in UK or Ireland. Designed by HPA Architects from Craigavon, it will be the new home for Green Pastures Church family and the support base for all its ministries operating throughout the wider region.
The recently completed 3,600m2 roof over the auditorium and sports hall uses perforated metal decking to span the main steelwork, with an infill of Rockwool insulation. This is then covered by a vapour check membrane and a layer of 12mm thick Magply boards, specified to carry 150mm of Hardrock DD underlay and a further 60mm of Hardrock Multifix insulation which is weathered by a Sarnafil single ply roofing membrane.
All the materials were supplied by Pawling's Insulation & Supplies Ltd. of Belfast and installed by McCavery Roofing, creating a roof construction offering excellent thermal, acoustic and fire performance, as well as the ability to cope with snow and wind loadings as well as other climatic conditions.
The site manager for McCavery Roofing, Stevie Jones, commented: "This is a large installation of some 3,600 square metres, with the auditorium and the higher level roof over the sports complex, both featuring the use of the Magply boards. They are being mechanically fixed to the decking prior to installing the two layers of Rockwool and then the Sarnafil membrane. Work has gone well so far and we expect to complete the roof installation to schedule by the end of March."
Magply features an MgO formulation to offer a fire-safe and environmentally friendly alternative to conventional plywood or OSB products. Additionally, the unique production process keeps the chloride content to just 0.01%, enhancing both stability and long term durability. Crucially, Magply carries internationally recognised accreditations confirming the boards' ability to deliver 90 minutes' integrity and insulation under test conditions.
The church facility is scheduled for completion in autumn next year and it also has its own restaurant, coffee shop, gym, dance studio, sports shall, training college and recording studios.
The wider Gateway development includes housing, a hotel, supermarket, car showrooms, riverside restaurants, an outdoor pursuits' centre, a training and education centre, student accommodation, a nursing home, an all-weather football pitch and a wedding chapel. This will be an ongoing development over the next 10 years or so.