£100,000 boost for north Antrim

ENVIRONMENT Minister Alex Attwood has announced that Moyle District Council will receive £100,000 to tackle dereliction in Bushmills, Ballycastle, Ballintoy, Waterfoot, Mosside and Armoy.

This is part of a one million pound funding package for environmental improvements to tackle dereliction in a number of areas in Northern Ireland.

Fermanagh will get a £380,000 boost in the run up to the G8 summit. Belfast will benefit from a £300,000 package.

Hundreds of derelict sites and properties will benefit, be it demolishing buildings at Broadway on the Falls and the Crumlin Road Belfast, a spruce up of Lisburn City Centre or removal of eyesores in Ballycastle and Bushmills.

This follows on from a similar amount of money having been pumped into Portrush and Portstewart in advance of the Irish Open and in Derry/Londonderry as a boost to the City of Culture year.

The £1 million will be divided up between the following Council areas:Fermanagh - £380,000, Belfast - £300,000, Lisburn - £160,000, Moyle - £100,000 for Bushmills, Ballycastle, Ballintoy, Waterfoot, Mosside, Armoy; Down - £60,000 for Ballynahinch, Newcastle and Downpatrick.

Councils have plans in place to push forward with this work in the near future.

Alex Attwood said: “This is good news for many areas and a further step on my programme to attack dereliction across Northern Ireland. Fermanagh will be very much in the international spotlight this year as hosts for the G8 summit.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to showcase its charms to the world.

“I want my Department to contribute to that and almost £380,000 will be a good start towards addressing dereliction and decay in the area.

“Belfast has been in the international spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

“ It is fitting that we do everything in our power to make the city as attractive for tourists and consumers. This funding package will be a significant boost towards that.

“I was also keen to build on the very successful work done in Portrush and Portstewart last year.

“This funding means we will be able to extend the good work down the coast, removing eyesores in scenic coastal areas including Bushmills, Ballycastle, Waterfoot and Ballintoy. Lisburn is this year’s European City of Sport, and our investment will see many areas in the city centre being given a real spruce up. Downpatrick, Ballynahinch and Newcastle will benefit from the funding boosting in these historic and seaside areas.

“If we want tourists to stay longer, if we want more tourists to come, then tackling major eyesores and dereliction will certainly help.

“While this is timely in relation to G8, Lisburn as City of Sport and helping to tackle problems immediately facing Belfast, I am doing this to benefit tourism in the long term which in turn will create the opportunity to attract inward investment.”

The Minister continued: “Last year, I released over £400,000 for Portrush and Portstewart and over £500,000 for Derry. At that time I said I would continue to find funding for other areas. Today five more Council areas are benefitting. I commend the hard work shown by councils who have received this financial package and also the efforts being made by others to pursue it. In total twenty two councils have bid for funding. I will continue to look at all proposals to expand and develop this dereliction and dilapidation programme.

“Our built and natural heritage are essential elements of our economy and jobs. They will be the biggest part of future increases in tourist numbers and spend.

“Growing tourism from a £500million to a £1 billion a year industry will revolve around the positive protection and development of this heritage.”

Ballycastle SDLP councillor Dónal Cunningham has welcomed the news that DOE Minister Alex Attwood has approved funding of £100,000 to deal with decay and dereliction in the Moyle area.

“Not for the first time the Minister has been able to show the ability to invest unspent monies into the built environment of coastal towns and villages.

“It is hoped that this intervention will help to stabilise trade in our towns and villages, improve our tourist and visitor appeal, and build up respect for the conservation and unique appeal of our streetscape and built heritage.”

Councillor Cunningham chairs the “Revitalise Ballycastle” steering group which is seeking funding to deal with the regeneration of the town centre, and in particular the conservation areas of Castle Street and Clare Street.

Added the councillor: “On top of Minister Attwood’s funding if the “Revitalise” project was successful it would hope to offer grants to improve historic buildings within Castle Street and Clare Street to enhance the historical character of the buildings and contribute to an improvement in the local economy as well as remaining an attractive place to visit.”

Robin Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist Assemblyman, has praised as “truly magnificent”, the announcement that Moyle had been successful in achieving a cash boost from the Dereluction Funding, emphasising that “it will breathe new life into the region”.

Mr Swann said: “This is absolutely fantastic news for this prestigious district of our constituency.

“It is a terrific boost for the town of Ballycastle and for the surrounding villages of Moyle involved. It will breathe new life into them through the knock-on effect of upgrading derelict buildings.

“Following on from the success of the Brighter Bushmills scheme, it is evident that the artwork has dramatically improved the appearance of the village and makes it more attractive.

“This attraction encourages visitors to stop and shop, which means added value to the project. Some 22 sites have been shortlisted as the highest priority.

“These were graded on a scoring matrix based on the significance of the buildings, prominence, location and route.

“Many of the properties identified form a considerable element of the village renewable plans which have been agreed for Bushmills, Waterfoot and Mosside.

“I warmly congratulate Moyle Council Chairman and my party colleague Councillor Sandra Hunter on this magnificent achievement not just for Moyle, but for the whole of North Antrim.

“This success is bound to make our constituency one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the whole of Northern Ireland,” said Assemblyman Swann.

Glens Sinn Fein councillor Colum Thompson said: “This is excellent news for Moyle and in particular the towns and villages where dereliction is becoming a real problem.

“I am particularly pleased that just over £10,000 of this money will be used in Waterfoot, a village where dereliction has been an issue for several decades.

“Dereliction in Waterfoot is something which I have raised on several occasions since I was elected to council and I delighted that this funding has been secured. When you have a place like Waterfoot, with a superb beach and a beautiful landscape it is vital that everything possible is done to compliment the natural resources and this funding will improve the appearance of the built environment to the benefit of locals and tourists alike.

“It will also bring benefits for the tourism industry and other local businesses making the village more welcoming for visitors to stop and spend some time in the area.

“ I would like to congratulate those councillors who attended the special meeting on dereliction and all the council staff that helped secure this much needed funding.”

Sinn Féin Glens councillor, Noreen McAllister, added: “Anyone walking around Waterfoot knows that the derelict buildings in the village have been a problem. It is one of the most beautiful places in Ireland and we want the village itself to reflect that.

“ It is a boost for everyone who lives here, for our local businesses, and it will make us more attractive to tourists who don’t want to see care-worn, abandoned buildings when they come here. I’m delighted Sinn Féin has achieved this money for Waterfoot.”