Restaurant and market mooted with consultancy route agreed for Glenarm plans

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is to appoint a consultancy to develop  plans for Glenarm seafront following the collapse of a high profile tourism venture for the village.

A restaurant is among suggestions for the harbour location after previous plans for a hotel and visitor distillery failed to progress.

According to minutes of last month’s meeting of the local authority, the council approved the appointment of a consultancy team to take forward the concept plans developed by the local community in relation to the land surrounding the harbour.

The authority has acknowledged the “continued engagement” of the Glenarm community and Glenarm Steering Group.

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    The village is the coastline's 'unsung gem'.

    A community market at Glenarm Harbour on land adjacent to the former fish factory site is included in development proposals. Stalls have been purchased and a discussion about a market licence is scheduled behind closed doors at a meeting of the council’s Policy and Resources Committee on Monday evening.

    The council has also approved the refurbishment of toilets at Carnlough Road car parkto include a Changing Places toilet facility, sluice facility for motorhomes and external shower for beach users.

    The authority is seeking the demolition of the Eglinton shed premises and relocation of the pigeon club to new premises adjacent to the rowing club has been approved.

    Coast Road Sinn Fein Councillor James McKeown has asked for a contamination report before any decision is made regarding the future of the quarry site.

    Carrickfergus DUP councillor Alderman Billy Ashe requested a report be provided to members on consultancy fees to date for the requested information regarding funding of proposed developments.

    Commenting on the plans outlined in the minutes, Coast Road DUP Councillor Andrew Clarke said: “Glenarm remains the unsung gem in our coastline. Forest, sea and glens collide in spectacular beauty. Failure to develop the marina is a gaping blight on council’s record.

    “Some form of public interest has to remain in the land, in order to prevent land banking or residential building. This creates difficulties for the large scale developer to raise capital or use the asset as security.

    “While I would welcome any interested party, we can’t just sit on our hands. Smaller, targeted progress can be made. An obvious win would be the sale of the quarry site for accommodation pods or cabins. This would encourage overnight visitors and spending in the area.

    “Eglinton Yard would make an excellent area for a local market, while funding is being sought for a new harbour master’s office. Why not include an upper floor where diners could enjoy our excellent local food and drink as they look over the sea? This would also bring in a rental income to invest in local services.”

    Coast Road Alliance councillor Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna said that she would like to see Glenarm Harbour used as a community open space. a new harbour master’s office with an upstairs restaurant, services for yacht owners and a visitors’ centre with units to house the rowing club, pigeon club, water sports and fishing with the use of specific areas of the harbour such as Eglinton Yard and shed for sustainable business/retail units.

    “In the interim, I would love to see a pop-up restaurant and community artisan markets in the harbour area this spring/summer,” she commented.

    Ald Mulvenna continued: “I have always been and am very passionate about Glenarm village. It is such a jewel in the crown for Mid and East Antrim and has huge potential to offer an enhanced  unique tourist experience along the Glens of Antrim and Causeway Coastal Route.

    “Over the past number of years we the community and Mid and East Antrim Council have been let down by bidders three times and therefore the ongoing regeneration and investment in Glenarm is more critical than ever to breathe new life into this beautiful conservation area village.

    “The Glenarm Village Committee has worked tirelessly in collaboration with council officers and the Glenarm Regeneration Steering Group to develop and create the perfect vision which Glenarm and surrounding area deserves and I commend them for that.”

    Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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