‘Whole coastal’ way plan for Gobbins

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A Gobbins steering group member is calling for the site to go “whole-coastal” as Larne Borough Council prepares to hand it over to MEA.

Councillor Gregg McKeen made the remarks after the date for the official handover of the Gobbins visitor centre was set for March 26.

The ceremony will see councillors from Larne Borough Council and Mid and East Antrim Council meet to acknowledge the transfer of responsibility for the site to the new supercouncil.

Cllr McKeen says that he hopes that the current plans for the Gobbins will be the launchpad for further stages of the scheme, which would see the Gobbins path eventually stretching from Blackhead to Portmuck.

He continued: “In the longer term I would like to see a link around from Blackhead to the Gobbins to Portmuck.

“There could be a major extension and I would see this stage as stage one.

“I would like to expand the path as a whole-coastal attraction within MEA.”

The elected representative believes the attraction could result in a burgeoning hotel industry as the infrastructure grows to accomodate visiting tourists.

He commented: “I think it’s a case of ‘build it and they will come.’

“When people see the Gobbins, entrepreneurs will look at the opportunity and think what they can do to capitalise on it, which could provide businesses, hotel nights, jobs and buildings.

“We have increased interest in the area due to the TV show Game of Thrones, and I have even been in touch with a reporter from the Chicago Sun Times who is interested in it.

“This has been a goal for generations of local councillors since the path fell into disrepair in the late 40s and 50s.

“The Gobbins is still a priority number one high-level project for MEA, and the new council will have more powers for economic development which will help us to sell the product,” he concluded.

Larne Borough Council is currently advertising a tender for a cafe or catering franchise at The Gobbins Visitor Centre from April 1.

Cllr McKeen says that the project is currently progressing well, with work on target for completion at the end of March.