A Royal visit to Glenarm could provide a vital boost to plans designed to make village a top-drawer tourist destination, it has been claimed.
Prince Charles wrote to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council recently to pass on his heartfelt congratulations to the village for its “magnificent achievement” in the international Communities in Bloom competition.
Glenarm was crowned the most beautiful small village in the prestigious contest last month, seeing off competition from the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Canada to scoop first place in the International Challenge (Small) category.
In his letter to the council’s CEO Anne Donaghy, the Prince of Wales said he recognised all the hard work the people of the village had put into securing this achievement.
The Prince of Wales also recalled his happy memories of visiting Glenarm back in 2009, when he joined local people for a round-table discussion on village regeneration and their vision for the future.
Significantly, the correspondence spoke of his hopes of being able to visit again “in the not too distant future”.
Prince Charles has for years championed the notion of a heritage-led regeneration of Glenarm, and one of his charities, the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, has worked with residents and businesses to produce a strategy for the sustainable redevelopment and growth of the village.
And it is hoped a return visit by the heir apparent would give renewed impetus to plans by Mid and East Antrim Council, which seek to redevelop the waterfront and quarry area, potentially transforming the village into one of the jewels of the Causeway coastal route.
Speaking of her hopes for a Royal visit, Coast Road Alderman Maureen Morrow said: “I was delighted to hear that Prince Charles still has an interest in Glenarm. He was very well received during his last visit and local people would no doubt be delighted to have him back.
“We very much appreciate his continued support. Without him, this regeneration project would never even have got off the ground. All being well he will be able to come back to the village soon and give the scheme a boost.”
The regeneration project includes the redevelopment of the Eglington Yard and waterfront area, the creation of a number of new houses and apartments, a new cafe and retail units.
The plans were due to be discussed at this month’s planning committee, but the council decided to defer the application until December following concerns by local residents.
East Antrim DUP MLA Gordon Lyons explained: “I welcome the decision of the Council to defer this for a month. There was a great deal of concern in the local community about the lack of local consultation in relation to these plans and it is right that there will be more time for consideration of these issues.
“I am pleased that the council have also decided to host a public meeting at which senior planners will be in attendance so that members of the public will have an opportunity to ask questions and get answers.”
The event is due to take place tonight (Thursday) in the village from 7pm-9pm.
Prince Charles is no stranger to the borough, having also paid a visit to Larne back in 2012, when he took the time to mingle with the adoring crowd and shake hands with excited school children.The purpose of his visit was to meet members of the community who had been affected by the severe snow that year.