"Significant" progress has been made by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to further plans for a £11million project to extend The Gobbins.
Forming part of the Belfast Region City Deal, The Gobbins Phase II project aims to join the upper and lower cliff paths, providing a circular walking route at the popular visitor attraction.
The scheme will see the cliff and coastal path extended to take in more geological features of the rugged coastline, delivering a more adventurous experience for locals and tourists.
Speaking at a recent meeting of the council’s City Deal Elected Members Working Group, Councillor Gregg McKeen said: “We want to keep tourists here longer and, by investing in this Gobbins Phase II project, we will create a world-class, authentic visitor attraction that will help us to grow both domestic and international visitor numbers to the borough.
“In recent months our officers and elected members have made significant progress in developing a comprehensive Outline Business Case (OBC) for Gobbins Phase II, setting out a range of important considerations together with the wealth of potential benefits to be derived from the project.
“The submission of this OBC to the Treasury this summer is a significant step in the journey to realising the long-term boost that the extension of the Gobbins will deliver to both tourism and the wider economy in Mid and East Antrim.”
Councillor Robert Logan added: “I commend the hard work of all those involved in progressing this vital work which will be crucial to unlocking the economic and tourism potential of our borough.
“The Gobbins is a key tourism asset in Mid and East Antrim and Northern Ireland, with thousands of visitors from around the world travelling to experience this unique attraction.
“The planned City Deal investment will build on its reputation and deliver an enhanced, world-class tourism site, which will be invaluable to our local economy.”
The Gobbins Phase II project is aimed at re-establishing the Gobbins coastal walkway using the existing path on the rock ledges with new adventurous structures to cross the gullies and crevices, further securing the site as a sustainable and viable attraction. It is anticipated that this will lead to increased overnight stays and out of state visitors, and leverage additional investment into the overall visitor experience in the borough.
The regeneration of Carrickfergus and the creation of an advanced manufacturing innovation and inspiration hub at the St Patrick’s site in Ballymena are also proposed to receive funding alongside the Gobbins through the Belfast Region City Deal.
The deal sets out a vision to create 20,000 new and better-paid jobs across the region’s growth sectors; pushing the ‘fast-forward’ button on inclusive economic growth and ensuring opportunities are accessible across all communities.
It will also improve infrastructure, digital connectivity, visitor attractions and innovation hubs; and deliver a major skills and employability programme
For more information about the City Deal, visit https://www.midandeastantrim.gov.uk/business/economic-development/belfast-region-city-deal