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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

New bridge proposed connecting Ballymena town centre and nature park

View of proposed bridge looking towards Ecos Nature Park.

View of proposed bridge looking towards Ecos Nature Park.


A new bridge connecting Ballymena town centre to a visitor attraction has been proposed as part of the St Patrick’s Regeneration Community Connections project.


A planning application has been submitted by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to its planning department for a new pedestrian and cycle bridge crossing the Braid River to the Ecos Nature Park; new outdoor event space; sensory garden with central sculpture; mobility hub including a Changing Places room and cycle parking.



The proposed development will be located on land off Demesne Avenue, extending north-east across the river, approximately 145 metres to the west of the Ecos Hub.


View looking northwards towards proposed bridge from existing River Braid walkway.

View looking northwards towards proposed bridge from existing River Braid walkway.

View of proposed event space looking eastwards towards proposed bridge

View of proposed event space looking eastwards towards proposed bridge.


A design and access statement says the majority of the proposed site comprises the former St Patrick’s Barracks, which was closed by the Ministry of Defence in 2007, before being transferred to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.


It notes:


“The proposed development will bring major benefits to Ballymena by regenerating the former barracks site transforming it into an attractive space for everyone to enjoy.”



Radius Housing has been granted planning permission to construct 135 new houses on the site and approval has been given for the redevelopment of the Farm Lodge campus of Northern Regional College.


The report notes the proposed 130-metre bridge with lighting will provide a new pedestrian and cycle connection between the town centre and Ecos.


View looking southwards towards proposed clock tower.

View looking southwards towards proposed clock tower.

View of Changing Places and Mobility Hub.

View of Changing Places and Mobility Hub.


A sensory garden will include a seating area with a clock tower and water feature at its centre. The clock tower will be created using bricks from the original barracks buildings and there is a plan to include stone plaques incorporating regimental cap badges.


A car park will comprise 17 spaces. A proposed ‘Changing Places’ disabled toilet facility and mobility hub will be located off the link road at the entrance to the proposed bridge with 12 cycle spaces. A new access road off Demesne Avenue is also planned to facilitate the proposed sensory garden car park.



Ecos Nature Park includes an eight kilometre path network, comprising trails through maturing woodland and meadow following the path of the Braid River. These trails will be accessible from the proposed bridge on both sides of the river.

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