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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

MEA Council secures £12.6m City Deal funding to fully unlock The Gobbins’ potential

Concept 3D artist impressions of The Gobbins Phase II.

Concept 3D artist impressions of The Gobbins Phase II.

One of Europe’s most dramatic coastal walkways is expected to draw up to 225,000 visitors from outside Northern Ireland each year when work is completed on an investment totalling almost £13.6m.

A key Belfast Region City Deal project, The Gobbins Phase II is one of three initiatives in Mid and East Antrim that, collectively, will benefit from more than £80m investment.

Ambitious plans for The Gobbins include a 60m-high panoramic stepway, upgrades to the clifftop path, the development of a new Welcome Hub, and improved visitor features. The investment will also feature the very latest virtual reality technology to allow a fully inclusive experience.

When complete, The Gobbins Phase II is expected to grow the Northern Ireland economy by approximately £9.5m per year, cementing the attraction’s place as one of the region’s top tourist venues.

Concept 3D artist impressions of The Gobbins Phase II.

The Gobbins Phase II was formally approved when an Outline Business Case received the green light from funders through the Belfast Region City Deal. The funding investment will be £12.6m and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council will also contribute to the project, which is set to total almost £13.6m.

Economy Minister, Conor Murphy, said:

“City and Growth Deal projects represent a massive opportunity to drive sustained economic sub-regional growth. The Gobbins Phase II will enhance this already beautiful tourist attraction to a local and global audience, further promoting the tourist offering this island has to offer.”

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, said:

“These stunning artist impressions really bring to life the transformational impact that Belfast Region City Deal will have on what is one of Mid and East Antrim’s – and indeed Northern Ireland’s – most important and cherished tourism assets.

“Alongside addressing operational, health and safety and capacity considerations, the project will unlock the vast potential of The Gobbins, significantly increasing capacity and making it a more complete and enjoyable visitor experience.”

Concept 3D artist impressions of The Gobbins Phase II.

A spectacular ingress structure will be created to connect the existing coastal path at The Gobbins with the current cliff top path, allowing visitors to experience the walk as a seamless circular route, taking in the magnificent views of the Antrim Coast.

A new Welcome Hub building connected to the ingress structure will include much-needed amenity facilities for visitors and will provide the starting point for both the coastal and cliff-top paths.

The Phase II investment also includes the creation of a new virtual reality offering of The Gobbins, which will be made available at the existing Visitor Centre and will ensure everybody can share in the wonder of the attraction. This all-weather facility will service a new target audience and cater for those unable to undertake the tour.

The Mayor added:

“The Gobbins Phase II will enable us to further deliver a world-class, authentic attraction that will help boost our area’s domestic and international visitor numbers. We anticipate that this will lead to increased overnight stays and out of state visitors and leverage additional investment into the overall visitor experience in the Borough.”

The regeneration of Carrickfergus and the development of the i4C Innovation Centre at the former St Patrick’s Barracks site in Ballymena are also to receive investment through Belfast Region City Deal.


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