Design team in place for planned £2m Larne town centre spruce-up

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LARNE Borough Council has appointed a design team to help realise a potential multi-million pound upgrade of Larne Town Centre.

The Department of Social Development has indicated there may be £2 million available for a public realm scheme in the town, similar to those already undertaken in Carrickfergus and Ballymena.

The work is aimed at making the town centre more attractive to visitors and investors, as well as contributing to the sustainability of existing businesses. The project has been earmarked for 2014/15, subject to economic appraisal and confirmation of funds.

And the local authority is now urging town centre businesses to put forward their views on the best way forward for the scheme.

A consultation event took place at Larne Town Hall on Tuesday, when traders had the opportunity to meet the design team, URS Infrastructure and Environment UK Ltd.

Town development manager, Hazel Bell has asked those traders who were unable to attend the meeting to contact her or the design team and share their views on the future of the project.

“Town centre traders have detailed knowledge of shoppers and visitors, traffic movement, parking and servicing issues in the town centre, which will contribute to the development of scheme proposals,” she added.

Any trader wishing to make their views known on the public realm scheme is asked to contact Mrs Bell at bellh@larne.gov.uk or call 028 2826 3041. They can also contact the design team at robert.preston@urs.com

When providing councils with capital grants to fund improvement works, DSD seeks a contribution of at least 10 per cent from the local authorities. And, as previously reported in the Times, Larne Council has agreed to invest £200,000 in the hope of securing the £2m town centre facelift. It is hoped the Department will be in a position to confirm the remaining funds later this year.

The public realm project is just one part of the DSD masterplan for Larne, which sets out proposals for redeveloping three main areas of the town centre.

Some of the major developments which are envisaged include a landmark building encompassing leisure facilities and a hotel to attract visitors at Riverdale, the creation of a new and distinct quarter in Dunluce Street and Point Street offering a mix of niche shops, leisure and café culture experience, and major road infrastructure changes to open up development sites on Circular Road, leading to better use of the Waterfront area.

The masterplan was commissioned by DSD in conjunction with Larne Council and other public stakeholders.