An appeal has been made for help to regenerate Larne‘s “forgotten streets” in the wake of the destruction wrought by Storm Desmond.
High winds battered the town on Friday evening, causing scenes of chaos as corrugated metal, joists, slates and tiles were torn off roofs in the Dunluce Street area of the town centre.
And one property owner believes the unprecedented storm damage should serve as a stark warning that “something needs to be done before this happens again”.
Mark Dobbin, vice-chair of Larne Traders Forum told the Times: “My building on Dunluce Street had part of its roof completely ripped off.
“When I arrived at the scene on Friday evening, it looked like a bomb had gone off. The whole street was covered in debris.”
He said it was only by “sheer luck” that no one had been killed, adding: “It was incredibly fortunate that no one happened to be walking along Dunluce Street when the damage happened.
“This was a major incident, and it should be a wake-up call that something needs to be done to improve this area in the long-run.”
Mr Dobbin has now called on the NI Executive to provide a funding package to help revitalise the once vibrant and thriving area around Dunluce Street.
He added: “Make no mistake, these are the forgotten streets of Larne.
“Over £2m is being spent on improvements to Larne Main Street and other parts of the town centre at present, but the area around Dunluce Street has been neglected once again.
“The area looks like Beirut in comparison to other parts of the town centre – there are many vacant premises and it is often like a ghost town because many shoppers simply bypass it.
“Basically, the entire block needs to be torn down and redeveloped from scratch by a major private investor. But realistically, that isn’t going to happen so we have got to make the best with what we have.
“While it is down to property owners to keep the buildings in good repair, a little bit of help from the Government wouldn’t go amiss.
“There is only so much you can do when the buildings are about 100 years old,” he concluded.