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Proposal for 100 caravan campsite extension at Larne’s Carnfunnock Country Park

An extended campsite to accommodate 100 caravans is among proposals put forward for the future of a key visitor attraction outside Larne.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, which owns Carnfunnock Country Park, says that it has “remained largely unchanged” since it was opened by the Duchess of Kent  in July 1990.

An application for log cabin accommodation to be developed by Larne-based social enterprise AEL was turned down by Larne Borough Council.

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The council says that the caravan park could be relocated and expanded to accommodate 100 caravans instead of fewer than 30 at present.

A 'masterplan' is being drawn up for the popular attraction.

Currently, the 191-hectare park located between Drains Bay and Ballygally consists of “mixed woodland, gardens, walking trails, adventure play park, café and caravan park”.

New adventure facilities such as “tree top walks, zipline or toboggan run”, for example, could be established in the grounds.

Camping at Carnfunnock will be restricted mainly to caravans during the holiday season this year as the borough council considers bringing in an external partner to manage the campsite and recreation facilities as part of a “masterplan” being drawn up for the  attraction.

The tent site, which is separate from the main camping facilities, across an internal road, is to remain closed due to concerns over ground conditions.

Caravanners at Carnfunnock brought in £82,894, during 2018/19; £65,578, 2019/20; £50,662, in 2020/21 and £75,541 during the previous financial year. The tent campsite brought in a revenue of £12,000 in 2018.19 and £8,800 during 2019/20 for the local authority.

The council has proposed exploring funding opportunities to develop a five-star campsite on the site of the golf course, which it says has “limited use” at presents suggesting it is a location where more than 100 caravans “could benefit from the spectacular view to Scotland”.

It has also been stated that the amenity block that serves caravanners and campers requires “an upgrade/replacement”.

The authority also believes that the existing visitor centre is “no longer fit for purpose”.

The council has stated: “Recognising the need to future proof the park and ensure that it continues to meet changing public needs, a draft masterplan was previously developed, setting out an exciting vision and options for investment and improvement.

“A number of these have been delivered, however, the council recognises there is more work that can be done to build on visitors’ experience at Carnfunnock.

“Council is currently applying for external funding to realise the concepts within the draft masterplan, and is reaching out to residents for their input into how they would like to see their park developed.”

Safety concerns around single road access are to be addressed.

Deputy Mayor Councillor Matthew Armstrong said recently: “I am a huge fan of Carnfunnock. It has potential to be an absolutely amazing facility. I look forward very much to seeing that it terms of a holiday destination. I think we should be doing all we can to develop it.”

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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Holiday season at Carnfunnock mostly for caravans as main tent site remains shut