More than 600 people say full closure of Carnfunnock Country Park during upgrade ‘would not be acceptable’

More than 660 people have signed a petition demanding access to Carnfunnock Country Park outside Larne throughout a £6.2m upgrade planned by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
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Friends of Carnfunnock are objecting to any full closure of the park to facilitate renovations and wish access to be included from the planning stage. The petition is to be presented to the council’s interim chief executive Valerie Watts later this month.

It reads: “While we welcome improvements to enhance the park’s facilities, we are deeply concerned about the nature of those improvements and the potential access disruptions during this period. Carnfunnock Country Park is more than just a recreational area; it is a lifeline for many.

“We demand that the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council provide an unequivocal guarantee that Carnfunnock Country Park will remain open at all times during the refurbishment process. We insist that this principle be central in all design plans and contractual agreements with contractors involved.

Carnfunnock Country Park.  Local Democracy Reporting ServiceCarnfunnock Country Park.  Local Democracy Reporting Service
Carnfunnock Country Park. Local Democracy Reporting Service

“Our plea isn’t just about preserving access; it’s about safeguarding our community’s health and well-being and caring for our natural environment.”

Online comments included in the petition are: “This is a very precious and important place for people who need to be able to access open and natural spaces, to support their mental health or general welfare.”

People need to access this park for their health and well-being, the public must be able to access it all year round and complete closure is not acceptable while it is being refurbished.”

“I rely on Carnfunnock as an area my son who is autistic feels safe and can let out his sensory issues in a controlled and safe environment.”

Last month, a meeting at Carnfunnock was attended by approximately 40 people who came out in opposition to a potential 12-month closure. They were advised work is due to commence in June 2024 “at the very earliest” and must be completed by March 2025.

The “majority of work” will be at the visitor centre building to accommodate a reception/shop space, café and toilet facilities. A new playground is planned as well as an upgrade to the existing caravan park, amenity block and activity centre facilities.

A cycling facility and investment in the existing adventure play is planned alongside a new playground and upgrade to path infrastructure. The council has said when concept plans are in place, a public consultation will be held.

Speaking at the meeting in Carnfunnock, the council’s parks development manager Lindsay Houston said initial talks with the design team indicated the site “will have to close in some capacity” while this work is taking place, although “nothing is set in stone”.

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The council did not issue any further comment. A spokesperson for the local authority said previously: “We are aware of some concerns that the transformational works to the park will require a prolonged period of closure.

“We want to reassure residents, visitors and businesses that no decision has yet been taken regarding the facilitation of the investment works at the park and how we deliver these in the most cost-effective and less disruptive way. We are considering a range of options and these will then be put to the community for consultation and feedback before a way forward is agreed.”

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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