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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

We would be barking mad not to – Cllr suggests doggy park plan for MEA

Coast Road DUP Councillor Andrew Clarke

Coast Road DUP Councillor Andrew Clarke

A Mid and East Antrim councillor is urging the local authority to include the creation of a “doggy park” in plans for the £6.1m refurbishment of Carnfunnock Country Park outside Larne.

Coast Road DUP Councillor Andrew Clarke said:

“Dog parks are found in other council areas and National Trust properties and I believe MEA council should seriously consider one in our borough.”

Refurbishment of Carnfunnock Country Park is scheduled to commence in October 2024. The council says it is keen to hear feedback on the plans from residents and visitors to Carnfunnock before a full planning application is submitted in March. The consultation closes on February 9.

The 191-acre site will be redeveloped through the UK Government Levelling Up Fund with 10 per cent “match-funding" by the council.

Cllr Clarke continued: “As the owner of two lovely schnauzers, I know nothing is better than allowing a dog to run freely off-lead. For dog owners, they are a great way of exercising the faithful hound. For those without dogs, it might well help problems with dogs off-lead in other parks and dog fouling.

“There is a strong argument that a controlled exercise area would alleviate problems with dog fouling or dogs not being properly controlled. There are always concerns about dog safety and cleaning. But then other council areas have them.”

In August, just three fixed penalties were issued by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council for dog fouling between November 1, 2022 and March 31, last year, despite 132 complaints.

There were 199 complaints about dog fouling in the borough in 2021/22; 374 in 2020/21; 314 in 2019/20 and 351 in 2018/19.

Comments posted online in response to the doggy park suggestion, said: “If it’s a dog park for the town people, why have it so far out of the town?”

Another said: “There should be one in the town. Not everybody has transport.”

It was also stated: “Just common sense to have responsibility of the environment you are in.”

Responding to suggestions that a doggy park could be located at Larne Town Park, Cllr Clarke said:

“Larne Town Park would be a good site, but funding is currently available for Carnfunnock.

“There is no doubt a doggy park would significantly enhance Carnfunnock’s offering – and at a relatively low cost. We would be barking mad not to consider this.”

Plans for the development of Carnfunnock Country Park include the demolition of the existing visitors’ centre/amenity block and play park to be replaced with a new adventure play park with inclusive equipment, visitors’ centre with a café and restaurant, multi-function spaces, a park shop, and public toilets.

A new amenity block will provide a shower, toilet and changing facilities for the caravan park alongside a communal kitchen space. The lower level will house a café kiosk, toilet facilities for the play park and storage space. It will also accommodate a Changing Places disabled toilet facility.

There are also plans for a new BMX pump track and bike jump trail at a site beyond the main car parks.


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