Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland has announced £45,000 funding towards the production of a masterplan for the regeneration of Ballymoney town centre.
The masterplan will serve to identify the strategic vision and regeneration opportunities in Ballymoney and how they can be realised.
Speaking during a visit to Ballymoney on Wednesday Mr McCausland said: “I am delighted to be able to announce funding for a masterplan for Ballymoney town centre today.
“Ballymoney is a town which relies heavily on its independent traders, and it is important that we create an environment that protects what is there, but also allows Ballymoney the opportunity to diversify and strengthen what it can offer to its residents and many visitors. The assignment is out to tender at the minute and I am hopeful that a team consultants can be appointed by the end of the month to take this masterplan forward and provide the town with a vision that will allow it to grow and prosper in the future.”
The masterplan will provide a framework within which detailed proposals for a mix of business, leisure, tourism, public space and housing could be accommodated.
Mayor of Ballymoney Borough Council, Councillor Ian Stevenson, commented: “Ballymoney Borough Council welcomes this vote of confidence in the future of our town. We look forward to working with DSD on the masterplan and to identify and create opportunities to regenerate the town centre and provide for its sustainable future.”
Mr Stevenson told Mr McCausland: “We have in recent years been taking steps to improve our town product and have a number of new businesses which has increased investment confidence. The continued enhancement of our town as what it has to offer is a vital ingredient.
“Your department previously funded a programme of marketing activity co-funded by Council. We are grateful for that support of our efforts which increased our tourism profile, through, for example, new direction signage, marketing materials and a visitor website.
“The Council welcomes the vote of confidence in the future of our town evidenced by your presence today. We look forward to continuing to work with your Department to identify and create opportunities to regenerate the town centre and provide for its sustainable future.
“We have just last week lodged with Heritage Lottery, our stage two proposal for a townscape heritage initiative in the heart of our town aimed to bring £2M funding offering the opportunity for the repair and restoration of to 28 buildings within the conservation area of the historic centre .
“This morning you saw at first hand some of the other issues we face in other parts of the town centre. Council is keen to find the best use for land and property that meets the needs of local businesses and residents and creates a vibrant town centre.
“Minister, we have a very cohesive partnership in Ballymoney. Our efforts in relation to the development and marketing of the town has met with support from the Chamber of Commerce and Ballymoney Regeneration Company who are represented here today.
“Your continued support and that of your department if vital to our success going forward.”
North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey said: “I am pleased that the Minister has listened to concerns that we have been rasing with him over a period of time.
“Other towns in Northern Ireland have benifited from the creation of masterplans, I trust that this will be the case in relation to Ballymoney.
“As the Minister has rightly indentifed, Ballymoney is a town which relies heavily on its independent traders, and it is important that we create an environment that protects what is already there and builds on our strenghts in the future.”