£160k funding boost will help redevelop eyesore sites

Larne Council is to receive a cash windfall of £160,000 to help tackle decay and dereliction at sites across the borough.

The funding, from the Department of the Environment, is part of a £1.5m pot to be shared out between 15 local councils.

The aim of the scheme is to enhance the environment and in turn boost tourism and local trade.

And while the money will be spread out to sites across the borough, it is planned that the bulk of it will be spent at Glenarm and Carnlough.

One of the major projects that has been identified involves the removal of the asbestos roof at the old fishery farm in Glenarm and the demolition of the building.

There are also plans to carry out work at Toberwine Street in the village by cleaning guttering, replacing down pipes and repainting doors, fronts and window frames.

In Carnlough, money has been allocated for the demolition of a building, the removal of hoarding and the provision of a new shop front at Cathal McAuley’s.

Money will also be spent removing vegetation and treating Japanese knotweed at Harbour Road.

And in Larne, weeds and vegetation are to be removed at the derelict Highways Hotel site.

Meanwhile, topsoil, rubbish and weeds are to be removed in the Millbrook area and a fence is to be erected.

For any work to be carried out at sites which are in private ownership, the council must seek the consent of the landowner, who must also make a legal agreement to repay the money when the site is redeveloped or sold.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood said the dereliction funding scheme had gone from strength to strength.

“This is a project of increasing significance,” he added.

“Tourists will be put off by eyesores. If we deal with dereliction, vacant properties and abandoned building sites, we create the opportunity to attract local investment and tourists.”

The Minister added that he will be pressing for further funding, and there is now another opportunity for councils to bid for more funding under the scheme.

A number of other sites in the borough have been put forward as candidates for the scheme, including the old Wilson’s of Rathkenny site at Glynn Road in Larne.

At the monthly meeting of Larne Council on Monday, Councillor Gregg McKeen described the former car showroom, which has now been demolished, as “a real eyesore”.

He added: “It is one of the first things you see coming into Larne from the Carrickfergus direction.”

Alderman Roy Beggs asked if the funding was confined to urban areas, and chief executive Geraldine McGahey said potential sites must meet certain criteria, including showing that it will benefit tourism, contribute to regeneration and tackling social need, or have a positive impact on the local economy.