Larne greenway feasibility study to be carried out
The development of a £0.75m “greenway” in Larne has taken a step forward with a fresh feasibility study approved by Mid and East Antrim councillors.
The development of a “greenway” has been earmarked between Millbrook and Larne Harbour, councillors have been told.
The Department for Infrastructure has requested that bids for funding be submitted before the end of August.
In June, Infrastructure MInister Nichola Mallon announced £20m for blue/green infrastructure and said that she is committed to working with all council areas in “identifying and delivering active travel and greenway projects”.
The Minister said: “I want to see more greener and cleaner places across our island, where families and communities can thrive.”
To progress the delivery of “greenway” projects, walking and cycling routes, councils need to provide business cases to the Department indicating part funding of the other 50 per cent.
A feasibility study for a Millbrook to Larne Harbour “greenway” was carried out in 2017.
The proposal would link with new housing developments along the route including the site of the former Highways Hotel continuing along the Inver River and owards to the Redlands lagoon providing a pedestrian connection between Millbrook and Larne Harbour train station.
The proposed route would also link to Larne Adult Centre, Larne and Inver Primary School and Larne football Club and social club. It would also see the redevelopment of a former railway track, a report to the council stated.
A walkway between Galgorm Castle and Cullybackey along the Maine Riverside Path in Ballymena has also been identified as a priority.
Councillors have agreed to detailed studies being carried out for both “greenway” proposals at a cost of £50,000.
Speaking at a meeting of the council’s Direct Services Committee, Operations Director Philip Thompson said: “There is quite a significant money being promoted by the Department. As a council,. we want to be in a position to access some of this funding.”
He told councillors that feasibility work needs to be carried out at a cost of £25,000 per greenway.
He also spoke of securing funding for bike shelters, bike stands and bike repair facilities.
Ballymena Independent Councillor James Henry commented: “I believe there is no finance set aside for this in the Corporate Plan. I thought anything that was not in the Corporate Plan was not a runner.”
MrThompson pointed out that there is “significant potential” for 80 per cent funding for “a lot of these schemes”.
He indicated that if the feasibility studies are not carried out, there will be no opportunity to get funding.
He suggested that the scheme would have economic benefit from a “tourism point of view”.
The recommendation to have the studies carried out was proposed by Coast Road Sinn Fein Councillor James McKeown and seconded by Bannside Ulster Unionist Councillor William McNeilly.
by Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter