SOCIAl Development Minister, Nelson McCausland, has praised the recent refurbishment and painting work which has revitalised some parts of Larne town centre.
And he has pledged that his department will consider whether similar help could be given to other areas in need in the town.
Mr McCausland visited Larne on Thursday to take a first-hand look at the DSD pilot ReStore scheme aimed at tackling the declining appearance of traditional shopping areas in town and city centres. DSD provided £150,000 funding for the area of Main Street around the refurbished town hall and the town was enhanced further with a combined environmental improvements scheme in Dunluce, Cross and Point Streets worth £85,000.
Minister McCausland said: “I am pleased to have this opportunity to visit the traders in Larne to see the splendid work which has been achieved in a relatively short period.
“I know that the local community has always provided very loyal support to the businesses here and I am keen that Larne retains this custom.
“The refurbishment and new painting work completed along the Main Street frontages really brings the town centre to life, providing a welcome invitation to entice all existing and new shoppers and visitors to come and use the town.
“I should also acknowledge the significant cooperation and support provided by Larne Borough Council and Larne Traders’ Forum in the delivery of these schemes and all the individual businesses and retailers who have benefited. I believe that these schemes can create an impetus for larger regeneration programmes when the economic conditions are better and my department will complete an evaluation in due course to see if a similar scheme can be done for other areas in need in the town.”
Larne Mayor, Councillor Gerardine Mulvenna, said: “Larne Borough Council is pleased that the department provided much needed funds to support our town centre businesses and traders. The appearance of our shopping areas is greatly enhanced and the marketing campaign is encouraging shoppers to make sure they come and see what Larne has to offer. Both schemes provided an excellent opportunity for the council to facilitate delivery of the work and to help develop strong partnerships.”
Chairman of Larne Traders’ Forum and chair of Larne Town Centre Masterplan Strategic Partnership, John Shannon, said: “The support from DSD and Larne Borough Council in delivering these schemes for the benefit of Larne town centre is valued and appreciated by all the traders and businesses. The schemes encourage us all to be proud of Larne.”