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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Larne town centre to get face lift with extension of public realm scheme

An artist’s impression of pedestrianisation at Dunluce Street and Lower Cross Street, in Larne town centre.

An extension to Larne town centre’s public realm scheme is expected to take place later in this financial year.

A report to Mid and East Antrim councillors says that paving work at Point Street is anticipated in the “latter half of the 2022/23 financial year”.

The report also states that this depends of the delivery of materials and scheduling of a contractor.

Match funding totalling almost £1.2m has been secured from the Department for Communities (DfC) towards the cost of the scheme in Point Street and at Castle Street in Ballymena.

The report has indicated that the local authority was advised by the Department for Infrastructure last month that all materials are expected to be delivered by the end of July.

However, pedestrianisation of Dunluce Street and Lower Cross Street may not commence for at least three years.

Councillors were told that officers are continuing to work with DfI and DfC to bring two further schemes to delivery in 2023/24 and 2024/25.

These are the pedestrianisation of Dunluce Street and Lower Cross Street in Larne, and the creation of two new “civic spaces” at Fairhill Square and Springwell Square in Ballymena. Both are subject to funding.

Some Larne businesses have expressed concern over potential impact on trade and access for customers and deliveries. Pedestrianisation would also mean the removal of six car parking spaces.

It is understood that Dunluce Street had been pedestrianised previously but this was revoked in 2010.

Several councillors have said that the street is in a “state of dereliction and very much in need of upgrade to realise its potential”.

However, no formal objections were received by the local authority during a public consultation at the end of August 2021 which was carried out ahead of an application for DfC funding.

Council minutes have indicated that the street may be “opened” to allow for delivery vehicles between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm and the installation of bollards could be an option.

it is also proposed to extend the public footpath at Bridge Street, connecting onto Dunluce Street, by removing a further two on-street parking bays.

The council has indicated that the proposed works would be phased, with improvements planned for Dunluce Street first with pedestrianisation at Lower Cross Street in a second phase with access for business deliveries expected to be retained.

Mid and East Antrim Mayor Councillor William McCaughey has said that regeneration works will “act as a catalyst for further private and public sector investment in the area”.

A previous £2.2m public realm improvement works featuring granite pavements, lighting and seating in other parts of Larne town centre streets in 2015 did not extend to Dunluce Street, Lower Cross Street and Point Street.

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