£71m projects announcement includes ‘historically overlooked’ areas of Northern Ireland

Ten flagship projects designed to boost economic growth across Northern Ireland are to share in a £71m Levelling Up Fund investment.

Initiatives include upgrading Larne’s Carnfunnock Country Park, creating a new industrial park in Maghera and developing a cultural space in Banbridge.

Rugby is also a winner in the round two funding announcement with over £5 million earmarked for the modernisation of 20 clubs to help increase women’s participation in sport.

The investment in historically overlooked areas will also create jobs and drive regeneration.

Carnfunnock Country Park, Larne.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Through greater investment in local areas, we can grow the economy, create good jobs and spread opportunity everywhere. That’s why we are backing a number of projects with new transformational funding to level up local communities in Northern Ireland.

“By reaching even more parts of the country than before, we will build a future of optimism and pride in people’s lives and the places they call home.”

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris said: "From regeneration in Maghera to a brand new wellbeing centre in Enniskillen, the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund continues to deliver across Northern Ireland.

“This latest round of the fund will see £71m invested in local infrastructure projects to support economic growth, drive regeneration, help deliver net zero and boost pride in place.”

The former High School site, Maghera.

Round Two

Projects awarded round two grants:

· £5.1 million to modernise 20 rugby clubs from Coleraine to Clogher Valley and Limavady to Lisburn, including new female changing rooms;

· Belfast International Airport will receive £2.3 million to purchase electric buses and deliver new sustainable fuel sources;

· The city of Bangor will undergo a £9.8 million transformation to create new waterfront gardens with spaces for events and activities, as well as helping to unlock the wider regeneration of the area;

· A leisure and wellbeing centre will be created in Enniskillen with £20 million as part of a new development called ‘Lakeland’, which will provide a wide range of indoor and outdoor leisure and recreation facilities incorporating the surrounding park, waterside, and the Lough Erne;

· Over £6 million to re-invigorate the 191-acre Carnfunnock Country Park with an upgraded visitor centre and sporting facilities;

· A new leisure and recreation centre at Camlough Lake will be built with £2.8 million, along with improved parking facilities and picnic areas and better walking and driving routes;

· The community of Ballycastle can look forward to the development of a new leisure centre with £8.1 million to support health and wellbeing;

· Maghera is to benefit from new green space and recreational facilities thanks to a £9 million grant. The money will also go towards transforming the former Maghera High School into a new industrial park to boost local business;

· Belfast’s art-deco Strand picture house will be rescued with £4 million to fund urgent works, preserving and showcasing Northern Ireland’s cinema heritage, creating a multi-functional arts space for East Belfast;

· £3.5 million to support the expansion and upgrade of the F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio in Banbridge. Funding will help the gallery realise its potential as an internationally renowned cultural space.

Round one of the fund in 2021 saw £1.7 billion awarded to 105 projects across the UK. The Government has also confirmed there will be a further round.

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Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said:  “We are firing the starting gun on more than a hundred transformational projects in every corner of the UK that will revitalise communities that have historically been overlooked but are bursting with potential. "

An interactive map showing which projects are receiving Levelling Up Fund investment is available at https://levellingup.campaign.gov.uk/