Over £31m Awarded For NI Regeneration Projects

More than £31 million has been allocated to five regeneration projects across Northern Ireland, from the UK government's Levelling-Up Fund.

Projects in Larne, Camlough, Mahera, Banbridge and Belfast are to be supported by the UK government through the Department of Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities fund.

Carnfunnock Country Park

In Larne, £6.1 million has been awarded to transform Carnfunnock Country Park.

The enhancements planned for Carnfunnock Country Park include:

• a new visitor centre featuring a retail shop, café, and meeting rooms

• additional restroom facilities

• improvements to the adventure playground and park

• the introduction of a new leisure attraction for older children

• creation of sculpture trails, viewing points, pathways, and improved signage

• installation of two electric points for camp pitches

• Improved accessibility in the park

Welcoming the announcement Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, said: "The innovative plans for Carnfunnock Country Park will enhance the natural heritage asset - which will in turn help revitalise the Larne area by creating a space that people want to visit, live and work in."

Camlough Lake

A total of £2.8 million has been awarded to Newry Mourne and Down to build a new recreation centre at Camlough Lake.

The new centre is expected to help attract new visitors and improve health and wellbeing through water sports facilities in the district.

It will provide:

• improved pedestrian and vehicle access to the lake

• facilities for water sports that are accessible 24/7

• good parking provision, seating and picnic areas

• toilets, changing rooms, showering and storage facilities

• meeting space to host official events and indoor activities

Maghera Regeneration Project

Mid Ulster District Council has been awarded a total of £9 million for the Maghera regeneration project. With the funding, Maghera Town Centre will be upgraded along with a new outdoor recreation facility.

Funding will help create a vibrant high street with opportunities for large and small businesses.

Improvements to the high street include:

• new paving, street lighting, planting and street furniture

• better pedestrian access

• wider footpaths

• improved traffic flow

The public realm scheme is a central part of the wider Maghera Regeneration project.

A former high school site will be redeveloped to create space for local businesses to grow. The business park will bring investment and create new jobs in the area.

The third element of the Maghera Regeneration project will see the creation of Maghera Wetland Park. This new outdoor recreational facility will include: quality green space; a walking trail network; natural play areas; nature interaction points; viewing platforms; a covered outdoor event space.

The facility will enhance the natural environment and link to existing facilities at Maghera Walled Garden.

F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio

In Banbridge, the F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio has been awarded £3.5 million to expand and upgrade this important cultural facility.

Since its opening in 2008, the Gallery has hosted state visits, attracted international visitors and given children the opportunity to see world class art.

The Levelling-Up Fund award will allow the Gallery to:

• increase the size of the exhibition space to allow more of F.E. McWilliam's work to be placed on display

• expand the workshop space used for education and training

• improve the capacity of the café, car park, shop and reception area

• enhance the facilities for staff

Margaret Tinsley, Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, said:

F.E. McWilliams work is of great cultural importance and the opportunity to showcase more of it will foster a deeper appreciation for our heritage and artistic legacy.

The new facilities are expected to be open to the public in 2026.

Upgrades to the Gallery will have many benefits to both the venue and the wider area. These include: allowing for more visiting coach trips increasing the potential for more international visitors; enabling The Gallery to engage with more schools and other education providers; providing more job opportunities; increased footfall and spending in local businesses.

Ballycaslte Leisure Centre

A total of £8.1 million has been awarded to Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council for the creation of a new leisure centre in Ballycastle.

The economy of Ballycastle relies heavily on local tourism. The lack of wet-weather facilities means tourism is highly weather dependant. As well as addressing the local need for facilities, this project will help extend the tourist season.

The new Ballycastle Leisure Centre will offer:

• a 4-lane swimming pool

• a bouldering wall, BMX pump track, walking and running trails

• space for community activities

• an accessible playpark

• a gym

• a cafe

The project runs alongside the Ballycastle Town centre Masterplan.

Belfast International Airport

And lastly, Belfast International Airport has been awarded funding of £2.3 million. The funding will be used for to replace LED lighting on the airport estate, purchase two electric buses, and install machinery to power large aircrafts.

This investment is expected to bring many benefits for passengers and the local community, including new jobs in installation, manufacturing and civil engineering; less pressure on local energy resources; reduced air and noise pollution; and improved passenger experiences.

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