Town stakeholders meet to discuss Ballymoney’s Masterplan

KEY stakeholders in Ballymoney town centre attended at workshop event on Thursday aimed at feeding opinions into the town’s new Masterplan.

The Department for Social Development (DSD) has appointed a consultancy firm. URS, to prepare a non-statutory Masterplan for the town centre.

The idea is that the Masterplan will provide the basis for future decision-making on town centre management and regeneration for the next 10 - 15 years.

Opening the meeting in the Shiels Room of Ballymoney Town Hall, Alderman Bill Kennedy said he looked forward to the Masterplan.

“I feel we don’t benefit as much as we should from trourism,” said Alderman Kennedy, adding that it would “generate additional visitors and spend” for Ballymoney.

William Cameron from DSD then explained to the invited guests that the Masterplan was a long-term stragetgy document which would look at the size and function of Ballymoney, its development potential, its needs and policy connections.

He explained that there would be a 12 week public consultation period during which views and opinions would be gathered.

Mr Cameron also explained that the Masterplan project team would consist of representataives from Roads Service, the Planning Service, conservation experts, DSD and the consultants URS.

MLA Jim Allister who attended the meeting asked if there was conflict between the Northern Area Plan and this new non-statutory Masterplan, which would prevail?

DSD’s William Camerson said that he hoped it wouldn’t come to that as the Masterplan project team would be working closely with the Planning Service.

Lynn Moffatt from the Ballymoney Community Resource Centre also attended the meeting and asked if the Masterplan was a strategy for Ballymoney for the next 10 - 15 years, what would happen following RPA when Ballymoney Council would become part of a so-called ‘super Council’ along with Coleraine, Limavady and Moyle.

Mr Cameron replied that both Coleraine and Limavady already had Masterplans and that Ballycastle had a town strategy plan.

“Therefore Ballymoney needs this Masterplan to put it on equal footing with the other areas,” he said.

URS Consultant Mark Hughes then gave a presentation about what would happen to create the Masterplan.

He said a Masterplan should be “distinctive, inspirational...have insight, flair” but he stressed it should be “realistic, credible and deliverable”.

He said that while URS were professionals in consultancy but the stakeholders in the town centre were the experts on what Ballymoney needs.

The 60+ invited guests were then invited to divide into workshop groups so that the consultants could gather initial views and feelings on the Masterplan.