Long-awaited plans to create a world-class mountain biking centre at Magheramorne are still in the pipeline, according to the developer.
For the past decade, UK company Lafarge Tarmac has spearheaded ambitious proposals which include the construction of mountain biking and diving centre at the disused quarry on the Shore Road, complemented by harbour village in the old works area as well film studios, a railway museum and a nature reserve on the man-made peninsula.
The future of the project was thrown into doubt in 2012, when the company made an unsuccessful bid for European funding.
However, Lafarge Tarmac has told the Larne Times it will continue to look into ways to move the project forward.
And work is currently underway to improve the vehicular entrance that runs directly into the quarry.
A Lafarge Tarmac spokesperson said: “At the end of 2012, we were very disappointed to learn that our bid for European Union money to set up a major mountain biking centre at Magheramorne had not been successful and there have been no opportunities since to apply for grants from other sources.
“However, we had started work on the planning application for the works in advance of the decision on the funding application, and, having put so much work into the planning application we felt it was sensible to carry on and secure the detailed permission.
“Vehicles wanting to get to the quarry currently have to take a tortuous route through the old cement works main entrance and then over the concrete bridge, and high-sided vehicles cannot go that way anyway because of the restricted height where the road passes under the railway.
“So occasionally the old entrance directly into the quarry off Shore Road is opened up, but it is well below modern day standards. Lorries can only really enter the site by coming from the Larne direction and then the climb into the quarry is really too steep. Plus, when vehicles leave the site it is very difficult for drivers to see the traffic on Shore Road.
“We got planning permission for the works last year and are hoping that by undertaking the construction works now, when the opportunity does hopefully arise for further funding, having the improved entrance already in place will help our case enormously.
“We have made sure that the improvements are good enough for the entrance to serve as the main way into the mountain biking centre and for other uses on the site that may come forward.
“Until the mountain biking centre is set up, for security and safety reasons, there will continue to be a gate across the entrance, albeit well set back from the road so that vehicles can stop clear of other traffic whilst the gates are opened.”
It is expected that the works to the vehicular entrance will be completed in the next few weeks.
The spokesperson added that the company would consider applying for grants to take the project forward should other funds become available, but added: “At this point we are not aware of any.”