Hope for Larne’s side streets?

Derelict shops on Dunluce Street. INLT-25-704-con
Derelict shops on Dunluce Street. INLT-25-704-con

Larne side streets which have not benefitted from the public realm scheme could be boosted when regeneration powers transfer to councils.

The revelation was made by the council’s Interim Head of Economic Development Aidan Donnelly at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Economic Growth and Tourism Committee on Monday June 20.

During the meeting, UUP Councillor Mark McKinty asked what plans existed for areas of Larne such as Dunluce Street, which are not included under the current public realm scheme.

“Those traders are impacted by the public realm but they are not directly benefitting,” he stated.

Cllr McKinty then asked if council funds which had not yet been allocated could be “redirected for other areas that fall outside of the public realm scheme.”

Mr Donnelly replied that there was a “limited fund” available to spend on the public realm scheme and that this had been targeted at “core areas” to “bring trade back.”

He added that “specific regeneration aspects” could be considered when the transfer of functions to local councils occurred.

“This year given the funds available it was felt that it would be a good opportunity to build on this in Larne town centre,” he stated.

Agreeing with Cllr McKinty, DUP Cllr Cheryl Johnston said there was a need to “bring in additional funding to extend the public realm scheme out further.”

“We need to do further work with Larne town centre and the outlying streets,” she stated.

Mr Donnelly then said that local council officers in Larne and Carrick would be looking at the “most appropriate way forward.”

“We will be looking for more public realm works growing out from the centre of Larne,” he revealed.

“Smaller schemes which are not of 12 months’ duration.”

The transfer of regeneration powers to local councils was originally scheduled to occur in April 2016, but was put on hold indefinitely by the Executive.

Responsibility for urban regeneration and community development has now moved from the Department for Social Development to the new Department for Communities.

When asked by the Times when local councils could now expect regeneration powers to be transferred, Communities Minister Paul Givan responded: “The extension of Regeneration and Community Development powers to local government did not proceed under the last mandate.

“The new Department for Communities (DfC) has now been established with a much wider range of responsibilities, including responsibility for local government and it will be in that context that I will wish to consider the options for going forward.

“Ultimately, any decision to extend powers to local government is a matter for the Executive.

“The timing of extension would be subject to the successful completion of the legislative process.”