The family who have owned and lived on the land surrounding Dunluce Castle for the last 50 years has revealed plans to improve the visitor experience at the site.
The ambitious project aims to provide “a significantly enhanced interpretive” facility for the 17th century Dunluce Castle.
Sean McKinley, whose family have lived on the land for 50 years, said: “What we have now at Dunluce Castle isn’t fit for the modern age and doesn’t give a good impression of our Borough or Northern Ireland.
“We have a wealth of beauty on our doorstep and visitor numbers are increasing every year, which is a very welcome change to the lonely days of the 70’s and 80’s.
“I will be working closely with the Causeway Coast and Glens Council, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and tourist bodies to make sure that we can deliver something that shows off the Castle to its best and adds to the tremendous attractions of Bushmills Distillery, the Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede and onwards to Portrush, Portstewart, Ballycastle and beyond.”
Johann Muldoon from Manor Architects, added: “The Castle is an iconic sight for anyone travelling along the North Coast and is itself a world-class visitor experience. What we are proposing is designed to enhance that experience.
“The new visitor centre will replace the existing tearoom and add an additional 31 car parking spaces. It is designed to complement local design and be sympathetic to the setting of the Castle. The entrance and exit will become one way to create a safer road environment and we will be provide a drop off point for tour buses which will then be directed to Bushmills or Portrush.”
Sean is clear that any development has to be unobtrusive and in sympathy with the landscape.
Plans for the new facilities will be considered by the Planning Appeals Commission at the end of June and depending on the outcome of their decision, construction could begin in 2016.
The facility will be run by an independent Dunluce Trust that will have representation from a wide cross section of local bodies with responsibility and interest in the site.