£60k for sensory gardens in Larne and Ballymena

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has secured £60k funding for the creation of two sensory gardens.

These are to be established at Carnfunnock Country Park, outside Larne and the People’s Park, Ballymena.

Funding is to be provided by the Department for Communities Access and Inclusion grant scheme.

A report to the council’s Direct Services Committee, which met last Tuesday evening, said sensory experience areas in these parks will be “developed specific to each site to provide inclusive sensory equipment and planting as well as seating areas to create a calm area within these busy sites”.

Carnfunnock Country Park is to get a new sensory garden.

Speaking at the meeting, Ballymena TUV Councillor Matthew Armstrong said: “These are the sort of things that residents want to see and expect to see from council.”

Larne Lough Alliance Cllr Maeve Donnelly asked if the Mae Murray Foundation, a disability charity, could be consulted.

The Mae Murray Foundation was set up to “allow people of all ages and abilities to take part in activities, experience the world and enjoy friendship together in an inclusive environment”.

Cllr Donnelly noted wheelchair users need to be able to gain access to the new facilities. “I would not like to leave anybody out,” she added.

Inclusion Funding

Carrickfergus Castle DUP Cllr Cheryl Brownlee asked about the possibility of a sensory garden for Carrickfergus. She was advised it may be possible through a further round of Access and Inclusion funding.

Councillors were also informed an application will be made to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (NI) for park signage and path improvements.

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The committee was advised the car park barrier at Carnfunnock Country Park will not be in operation during the winter months. Car parking charges will resume in March with low and peak charges applicable throughout the new season.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter