25/06/2010

Attwood Reveals Masterplan For Antrim

NI Minister for Social Development, Alex Atwood has launched the Antrim town centre masterplan.

The masterplan provides a vision for the town centre and a strategy for delivering that vision. The masterplan published today states that Antrim has capacity to add up to 14,000sq m of new retail floor space to significantly improve its retail offer. The plan also proposes that this new retail development should be located mainly on publicly owned car parks in the town centre, with the parking spaces to be replaced in new multi-storey car parks within the developments. It also suggests that the commercial regeneration of the town will require investment from both the public sector and private developers and retailers.

The Minister also announced that a key development site at the corner of Railway Street and Church Street, which has been derelict for over 25 years, has been purchased by his Department in an effort to kick-start the regeneration of the town centre. The Department plans to secure a new retail development on the site by issuing a development brief to attract investors and developers.

At the launch of the masterplan in the newly renovated Antrim Old Courthouse, Minister Attwood said: "The people in Antrim require a greater choice for shopping in their own town centre. There has been a gradual decline in the number and range of shops available in the town. This masterplan has identified gaps in the retail market and the potential development sites to help prevent further decline and progress Antrim’s position as a shopping town.

"A constructive public and private sector partnership approach to delivering the new vision for the future of Antrim, is needed to deliver the range of regeneration projects set out in the masterplan. This will ultimately benefit everyone in the town."

The newly elected Mayor of Antrim, Councillor Pam Lewis, said: "The Council is delighted to see the launch of the Antrim town centre masterplan and delivery strategy. I wish to thank the Minister for Social Development for his support, and his officials and our own Council staff for all of the hard work that has gone into preparing the masterplan.

"We appreciate that these are challenging economic times. However, Antrim Borough Council is committed to doing all we can to revitalise Antrim town centre through this new plan. The Council has just completed the restoration of the Old Courthouse which has helped to transform the heart of Antrim town, and I am confident that this in turn will act as catalyst to attract further new investment in the town centre. We look forward to working together with all our public and private sector partners to see the Masterplan plan being implemented in the months and years ahead."

(NS/GK)

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