Don’t pull plug on Market Yard scheme, council urged

LARNE Borough Council has been urged against halting planned refurbishment of the Market Yard.

A recent Larne Times survey of stall holders at Station Road suggested they would be happy with a minor facelift instead of the £1.4 million refurbishment scheme envisaged by the local authority.

Describing the market users’ comments as “useful”, Ald Fulton said: “I feel that what they are saying is that they are happy with the yard as it is, but maybe it is in need of a facelift and I think those comments should be taken on board and that the council should look again at the project.”

The DUP representative said it was one of the council’s biggest capital projects and urged that further consideration be given before proceeding with the expenditure.

“These are the views of the public and I think we should take that on board,” he added. “I don’t think we can afford to carry on with too many more major projects and if people are telling us they are happy at the market yard, who am I to argue?”

The council has been debating refurbishment of the former cattle market for over a decade. The first ambitious proposal, which included a hotel, community offices provision and sheltered housing, was knocked back by planners.

Government grant aid could not be secured for a reduced scheme, which would have incorporated workshops in the rear sheds and offices.

Last November, it was agreed to trim a further £300,000 off the budget and to proceed with the current project, which will refurbish the market house, upgrade and enclose the main shed and fully restore the old auction house.

The council has already incurred consultancy and professional fees on the project and has gone out to tender for the improvement works.

Chief executive Geraldine McGahey urged against any new decisions until the tender report in produced.

She added that the council had only recently agreed to proceed with the project, on the recommendation of Larne Regeneration Co.

Mrs McGahey said part of the need for refurbishment was to the council’s duty to protect listed buildings in the yard.

Even the boundary wall is subject to listing.