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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

New lease of life across Mid and East Antrim as multimillion pound programme wraps up

Glenarm environmental enhancements include a new seating area, planting and pergola

Five years, 18 villages, 22 projects, and almost £4million pounds and a lot of happy people later, communities across Mid and East Antrim are enjoying investments that have helped improve facilities. The Village Renewal Programme has seen play parks, community hubs, halls, outdoor spaces, gardens and much more, created, renovated and brought to life for future generations to enjoy.

Outgoing Mayor Cllr Peter Johnston visited a number of the projects on a tour across the borough:

“I’ve been blown away by the sheer amount of wide ranging projects that have been delivered. From small community gardens to new play areas and even the provision of a sports pavilion. All of the projects provide huge benefits to our local communities and feedback has been tremendous. We want to thank all those involved for their hard work to get here, from community groups, the MEA LAG, contractors and of course The Executive.

Former Mayor Cllr Peter Johnston with local representatives at Tobar Park in Cullybackey

“These projects are just one example of how the Rural Development Programme is working to leave a lasting legacy within our rural areas. This scheme will no doubt serve the local community well for many years to come and I look forward to seeing all the projects and spaces being put to good use.”

Some of the highlights along the tour of project site visits included: a new play park at Tobar Park in Cullybackey with equipment for all abilities and a multi-use games area providing the perfect space for a kick about. A new single storey sports pavilion at Kells & Connor with facilities including a number of changing rooms, toilet and baby change facilities, first aid room, tea point, meeting room and storage rooms. Additional car parking has been provided adjacent to the pavilion and pedestrian access from Station Road has been upgraded to improve accessibility.

Former Mayor Cllr Peter Johnston with elected and community representatives in Gracehill

In Glenravel, a new greenway has opened that runs from St Mary’s Queen of Peace Church, Martinstown, to Con Magee’s GAC outside Cargan.

Glenarm environmental enhancements at the foreshore include a new granite seating area, planting and a pergola.

Gracehill sports a new walking route at God’s Acre which will celebrate the area’s strong heritage, enhancing what is already available in the village.

Former Mayor Cllr Peter Johnston with council, LAG and development partners at Kells & Connor Pavilion

Chair of Mid and East Antrim Local Action Group (LAG) Kelli McRoberts said:

“£2.5 million of funding from DAERA has been allocated by MEA Local Action Group, enabling us to support more than 20 projects across Mid and East Antrim.

“It’s been great to visit some of these rural projects and be able to see first-hand the benefits that this funding has brought to these areas. It has improved a range of infrastructure from play parks to walking trails, enhancing our vibrant rural villages. The Village Renewal Scheme has been hugely beneficial to our rural communities and we congratulate Council in bringing these important projects forward.”

Former Mayor Cllr Peter Johnston with local representatives at the new community Greenway in Glenravel

Vice Chair of Mid and East Antrim Local Action Group (LAG) Ald Audrey Wales MBE added:

“It’s fantastic to see these projects across the borough bring so many benefits to the local communities. It’s been years of hard work and dedication from all the partners, community groups, public bodies, builders and now finally we can begin to enjoy making precious memories for years to come. The LAG are delighted to have helped towards delivering these invaluable assets and look forward to seeing them add value to their local areas.”

£2.5m funding was secured from the Village Renewal Programme, managed by MEA LAG, funded under Priority 6 (LEADER) of the NI Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 by Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and the European Union.


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