£1.34million boost for town centre

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AN ambitious scheme to regenerate and repair up to 27 redundant or underused historic buildings in Ballymoney has been launched with a potential injection of £1.34m.

The sheme is focussed on the commerical heart of Ballymoney which contains a significant number of historic buildings and structures that contribute to the town’s special townscape character.

It offers the opportunity to bring back into sustainable use some of the current buildings on Victoria Street, Main Street and The Diamond.

Earlier this year the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) announced its support for proposals for heritage-led regeneration within the Ballymoney Conservation Area.

The first-round pass* decision set aside £1.34million through the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) programme towards Ballymoney Regeneration Company’s (BRC) proposals to repair, restore and in some cases find new sustainable uses for up to 27 buildings within the town’s historic centre.

The award includes Project Development funding of £50,000 to enable more detailed proposals to be developed. BRC and its team of appointed conservation consultants now has until April 2012 to submit the second-round submission of fully developed plans, in order to secure the full award.

As part of the Project Development phase, BRC in partnership with Ballymoney Borough Council has invited stakeholders, including owners of potentially eligible properties, to attend a Consultation Meeting to be held at the Town Hall tonight (Tuesday). BRC wishes to seek the views of stakeholders as to how the scheme may best achieve its heritage-led regeneration objectives and maximise the benefits to the local economy, local businesses and the local community.

A programme of activities will also be developed to encourage local people to learn about and become involved in the heritage of their area. It will provide opportunities for employment, education and learning, and for training in traditional building skills.   

Subject to HLF approval of the second-round submission, the Ballymoney Townscape Heritage Initiative is programmed to commence in Autumn next year and be completed by the end of summer 2017.

Winifred Mellet, chairman of Ballymoney Regeneration Company Limited said: “The proposed Ballymoney Townscape Heritage Initiative, offers a splendid opportunity to reinvigorate the local economy whilst at the same time preserve the town’s enormously important and cherished built heritage. The scheme will act as a catalyst for further regeneration within the area, benefiting the local community, property owners, traders and visitors to the town”.

Since 1998, HLF has invested over £250million through the THI programme to regenerate towns that have suffered serious social and economic decline. THI encourages partnerships of local organisations to carry out repairs and other works to a number of historic buildings, structures or spaces within these defined areas, aiding social and economic regeneration and helping to improve the quality of life for all those who live, work or visit there.

*A Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) first-round pass means that money has been set aside by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the scheme in question.

Whilst this does not guarantee funding, it is an indication of positive support. The applicants can then progress to the second round and submit a further, fully-developed application to secure the full award. On occasion, development funding will also be awarded at the first round. This early level of strong financial commitment means that THI’Reges can build strong partnerships with the assurance that funding for their scheme is in place provided their final proposals fully meet the programme criteria.