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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Dog Park included in £7M refurbishment of Carnfunnock Country Park

Plans for Carnfunnock Country Park

A dog park is included in plans for the regeneration of Carnfunnock Country Park outside Larne following public consultation.

A public consultation into the refurbishment of one of Mid and East Antrim’s key visitor attractions took place in January.

The cost of the project has risen from £6.1m earlier this year to £7m in conjunction with the UK Levelling-Up Fund. The sum of an additional £549,000 council contribution was approved during a discussion behind closed doors at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council in February.

A planning application has been submitted for a replacement visitor centre, amenity block and play park as well as construction of a new BMX pump track, bike jump trail, maze viewing platform and  parking/drop-off area. Improvements to  paths, drainage and external lighting are included in the development plan.

Plans for Carnfunnock Country Park

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has received 355 comments online and 22 written replies in response to the public consultation which included a drop-in session at Larne Town Hall.

The council has said in response to feedback following the consultation it will expand a section of pathways to remain open during construction works and will include a temporary path to enable a circular route during works on site, a pre-application community consultation report states.

A petition in the community also demanded access to the 119-acre site during construction works. The local authority has said, however, some pathways will be closed temporarily during the construction period to allow maintenance works to be completed.

The report also notes parking at Drains Bay and the car park opposite the entrance to the site at Coast Road will be available throughout the building works.

It has also been indicated following the consultation, the number of accessible car parking spaces at the play park has been increased from four to eight and across the site, the provision of accessible parking will be increased from 16 spaces to 33.

Responding to comments over the proposed location of the cafe, the council explained it will be situated on the first floor “in order to free up space for a large welcome area and also to make the most of the large terrace space with expansive views over the park and towards Drain’s Bay”.

“The cafe will be fully accessible from the ground floor through the use of stairs and a lift, and it will have level access from the walled garden area through the introduction of a new footbridge”.

With regard to the caravan park, the council said: “No additional caravan pitches will be included as part of this application. The existing caravan amenity block will be demolished, and a new amenity block constructed.”

The report also noted existing pathway upgrade works are included in this proposal, to include a path drainage upgrade. A schedule of planting will be introduced to the park with “enhancements” to the walled garden planting to be included. Park furniture will also be considered as part of this project.

In response to a query over potential demand for a BMX pump track, the council said: “Initial community consultation carried out in 2018 demonstrated the need for an attraction which would provide for all ages.

“Together with the refurbishment of the play park, we have introduced a BMX pump track and jump trail, this will provide additional activities for older children/teenagers/families. They are becoming really popular with kids aged five to 18, particularly since BMX and scooters have become ‘cool’ again.

“The proposed facility offers opportunities for progression and challenge from a beginners’ and intermediate pump track onto a jump trail. This would be the first pump track/jump tail of its kind not only in this area but in Northern Ireland that is free to use. The pump track and jump trail are being designed to require minimal periodic maintenance.

“However, a mountain bike trail is not being considered as part of this project. Resources are not available to further extend this element of the project.”

Also in response to community feedback, the report noted the design team has amended the external finish of the building to better integrate this into the existing landscape and to include more glazing, making it feel more open and connected to the park. Additional covered seating has also been included.

The pre-application community consultation report states:

“The feedback received during the three-week consultation has made a significant contribution to the development of the design proposals and has been fully considered prior to the submission of the planning application.”


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