Multi-million makeover

Replastering the pet shop on the corner Dunluce street and Lower Cross street. INLT 09-408-PR

Replastering the pet shop on the corner Dunluce street and Lower Cross street. INLT 09-408-PR

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LARNE town centre is undergoing a major facelift which, it is hoped, will stimulate both trade and investment.

The centrepiece of the multi-million makeover is the ongoing restoration of the Victorian McGarel Town Hall. Buildings in the vicinity of the historic building are also being spruced up ahead of the completion of the £3 million regeneration contract which will add a much needed focal point to the town centre.

And thanks to the perseverance of traders and property owners in Dunluce Street, Point Street and Lower Cross Street, the renovations are spreading outwards from the town hall, with a number of buildings being re-painted or re-plastered at present.

The town hall, which had been deteriorating for many years, is being restored to its original Gothic splendour. The sandstone exterior has been cleaned to make it look like new and intricate architectural features replaced as necessary after decades of erosion.

Inside, original features are also being restored and up-to-date features added, including a lift. When the work is complete, in July, the town hall be open again for community functions as well as hosting a new parlour for the mayor.

The Department for Social Development has funded a pilot ReStore project worth £150,000 in the vicinity of the town hall.

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It will enable property owners to help improve appearance of building frontages, as well as disguising ugly gap sites and providing promotional and marketing activity designed to attract more people into the town centre.

In addition, DSD is funding the spruce-up scheme for properties in Dunluce Street and Point Street area worth approximately £84,000. Steering Groups - comprising representatives from the Larne Traders’ Forum, individual traders and businesses in the programme area, DSD officials and town development manager Hazel Bell - are progressing both schemes, which are due to be completed this month.

“This work to make visible improvements to the image of the town and address the more notable negative impacts was included in the masterplan for Larne town centre launched in 2010,” said a DSD spokesman.

“The masterplan is a long-term strategic plan which identifies regeneration actions that could be taken in the town centre in the period until 2025,” he added.