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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

MEA Council chief outlines vision for regeneration of Larne town centre

Dereliction in larne town centre

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has outlined its vision for the regeneration of Larne town centre amid “evident dereliction and falling footfall issues”.

Responding to a question submitted by a member of the public ahead of a meeting of the council, at The Braid, in Ballymena, on Monday evening, regarding the future of Dunluce Street, interim chief executive Valerie Watts said:

“Dunluce Street recently reopened after council successfully obtained legal approval to undertake repair works to an unsafe building in the street.”

Dunluce Street, a main town centre thoroughfare, had to be closed to traffic for 18 months as a safety precaution due to the condition of a derelict building.

A quarter of properties in Larne town centre are vacant according to an audit carried out by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council last year. Of these, 12 buildings are either vacant or derelict and deemed unfit for occupancy with Dunluce Street and Point Street the worst affected.

Dereliction in Larne town centre

The interim chief executive added:

“Council’s strategy towards the regeneration of the wider Dunluce Street area in the short, medium and long term is as follows:

“In the short term, council officers are currently working with key community and business stakeholders in the Larne town area.  They have all come together to bring forward community-led ideas to turn around the evident dereliction and falling footfall issues within Larne town centre.

“A recent workshop was held in the town hall, which was very well attended by the community along with leading design academics, council officers, and other experts in the field of urban revitalisation.

“This initiative will continue during 2024 and it is hoped that specific ideas (which may also include a mix of retail/residential or other community space concepts) will be brought forward for consideration for future funding within the Larne town centre.

“In the next nine to 12 months, council officers hope to roll out a programme of town centre revitalisation activity, which is going to be co-funded by the Department for Communities.

“This programme, which is currently in the application phase, aims to provide an immediate boost to the Larne town centre, with shop front improvement grants, the provision of additional shop-parklets (which add additional street-retail capacity) and the development of green spaces within the town centre, which will make for a more attractive and environmentally sustainable area to be able to shop and relax.

“Planning permission has also been granted for residential development in the Dunluce Street area, however the timeframe for progressing that is within the remit of the property owner.

“Council has also agreed to co-fund a community wealth building partnership within Larne which is developing strategic economic development projects for the town of Larne, with the intention for these to be brought forward for funding consideration by the NI Executive departments and also the UK government.

“Council is also keen to support this initiative, as both the community and council feel that new economic development within Larne will also benefit the wider town centre, as new investment will hopefully lead to job creation and employment opportunities and a subsequent boost to town centre retail activity.”


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