26/06/2008

Causeway Architect's Plan Has 'Strong Environmental' Basis

The National Trust's preferred architect, for a proposed Giants Causeway visitor centre, will incorporate a "strong environmental basis" in its design.

The designer, Dublin-based Heneghan Peng, has taken the next step forward in building its plans, after submitting a "robust" planning application to the local authority.

Backed by the National Trust, Heneghan Peng won the International Design Competition in 2005.

The focus of its design is said to the based on sustainability, with no additional green field development.

A Causeway visitor centre has been the subject of much controversy over the past 12 months, after the then Environment Minister announced the project would be opened up to private tender.

Now, the National Trust will provide around £6 million of funding for its new plans, and aims to attract additional funding sources to substantiate its application. The Trust wants the site to remain in public ownership.

Should the Trust's proposals get the go-ahead it is expected work could begin as soon as next year, with the eventual scheme opened to the public by 2011.

This of course is all subject to planning approval being granted, and all funding being in place.

The Trust's Director for Northern Ireland, Hilary McGrady, said: "We have submitted a full robust planning application befitting the Giant's Causeway World Heritage Site and the surrounding landscape."

"We are confident and determined to deliver visitor facilities which will enhance tourism and benefit the local area and indeed everyone in Northern Ireland."

"We are confident that this Planning Application, and the proposal we have mapped out will deliver the key objectives, to provide world-class visitor facilities," added Ms McGrady.

(PR/JM)

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