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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Visitors to Hillsborough Forest will benefit from £2million investment

Celebrating the opening of the new £2m visitor facilities at Hillsborough Forest Park are (L-R) Councillor Sharon Skillen, Leisure and Community Development Committee Chair, Mayor of LCCC, Alderman Stephen Martin, DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA, and Alderman Amanda Grehan, Chair of LCCC’s Development Committee.

Visitors to Hillsborough Forest Park will benefit from new facilities following the completion of phase one of redevelopment works, Rural Development Minister Edwin Poots MLA has said.

The redevelopment includes upgrades to pathways around the lakes, two new bridges, including viewing platforms around the lake. New car parks have increased parking capacity, a new picnic area has been created along with an adventurous new play park for children.

The improvements form part of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council’s (LCCC) ambitious plans to develop and improve the forest and have been funded with £1million from LCCC, £1million from the Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and £28,000 from the Department for Communities.

Visiting the Forest Park today, Minster Poots said:

“As a local man myself I’ve had the opportunity to avail of the enhanced facilities here at Hillsborough Forest, and I’m extremely delighted with the improvements. The development of effective partnership arrangements with Lisburn City and Castlereagh City Council has been critical to providing this range of facilities for people to enjoy and I warmly congratulate the Council on their endeavours in providing better services and facilities for users of Hillsborough Forest Park.”

The Minister added:

“The ongoing Forest Park Enhancement Scheme fits very well with my Department’s Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Framework priorities in that it addresses important issues such as isolation, loneliness, access and health and well-being. Our Forests currently attract almost 9 million visits each year and delivers outcomes for rural dwellers by enhancing and creating spaces that will encourage people to adopt to a more healthy and active lifestyle.”

Alderman Amanda Grehan, Chair of the Council’s Development Committee, said:

“I want to thank DAERA and DfC for working in partnership with the Council to support the development of this wonderful outdoor space. Our contractors, FP McCann and Hawthorn Heights have delivered a spectacular end result.

“We are committed to positioning Hillsborough as one of the key tourism destinations on the island of Ireland. With the exciting announcement of Royal Status earlier this year and continued development and improvement of the park, forest and other facilities, Hillsborough now has something for everyone.

"Work has also begun on phase two of the project with the creation of a unique digital sculpture trail. Ten sculptures will be completed by March 2022, each with a specific theme reflecting the rich history, heritage and culture of Hillsborough village.”

Councillor Sharon Skillen, Leisure and Community Development Committee Chair, added:

“Access to quality outdoor spaces is essential to support our physical and mental health and wellbeing. This has been particularly important during the pandemic for exercise and outdoor activity.

“Hillsborough Forest and adventure play park are attracting more and more visitors. The new upgrades will ensure a much more enjoyable outdoor experience for everyone who visits.

“I would really recommend looking through the viewing platforms around the lake which are perfect for taking time to relax and to enjoy the tranquil surroundings.”


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