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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Ballymena bandstand will be restored to pristine condition and find new home

The former bandstand at Broadway in Ballymena town centre.

The former bandstand at Broadway in Ballymena town centre.

Ballymena’s former town centre bandstand is set to be given a new lease of life.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has agreed to hand over the previous civic centrepiece to the Kells and Connor Community Improvement Association for a restoration project.

It is anticipated that a community project will see the bandstand cleaned, painted and returned to its former glory and positioned in an open space at Church Road in Kells.

Formerly, the bandstand was located at the junction of Wellington Street and Church Street.  It was removed in January 2018 to make way for a new £104,000 canopy structure which was installed as part of a £3.5m town centre public realm regeneration scheme.

The council said at the time: 

“The previous bandstand covered a small area of the central reservation. It has only been able to accommodate small-scale events, speakers and entertainers broadcasting to a limited audience in that area. As such, it has been under-used in its current location.”

Initially, the council had intended that it would be relocated to the People’s Park in Ballymena.

Braid DUP Alderman William McCaughey told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that Kells and Connor Community Improvement Association has been “a very active group” in the villages for a number of years.

“They asked if the council would be interested in permitting the community group to utilise it and put it on the village green,” he explained. Ald McCaughey said that planning permission will be required.

He added: “I am so pleased they approached me to get this resurrected. It has been lying in a corner of a yard. It will keep a local historical artefact from Ballymena in pristine condition for the next 50 to 60 years.”

The decision to hand over the bandstand to the local community group was approved  behind closed doors during a discussion at a meeting of the council’s Corporate Resources, Policy and Governance Committee last month.

The recommendation was proposed by Ald McCaughey, seconded by Braid TUV Cllr Matthew Warwick and agreed by the committee.

Meanwhile, Mid and East Antrim councillors approved expenditure of £24,000 for an animation entertainment programme in Ballymena and Larne town centres during 2024/25 at a meeting of the council’s Environment and Economy Committee last month.

Ursula O’Loughlin, the council’s head of economic development, told members  of a “difficulty in receiving individual feedback” from local businesses regarding the proposal, noting work being undertaken to “get a representative view”.

She explained the aim of the initiative is to increase footfall in the town centres and business growth.

Bannside TUV Cllr Timothy Gaston commented:

“As a council. we need to do all we can to drive footfall into our town centres.”

He described 34 responses by businesses as “disappointing”.

“We need their backing. It is a two-way street,” he added.

The director went on to say that retailers are “under a lot of pressure”. Cllr Gaston added: “It would be good to have a higher input from businesses to give us an assurance that this is the right way of travel.”

The recommendation to approve the cost was then proposed by Cllr Gaston and seconded by Ballymena DUP Cllr Lawrie Philpott.


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