The Council has been granted planning permission for a change of use of the former Wellworths building on High Street, now owned by the Karl Group, from first floor retail space to first floor office/workspace.
The redevelopment of the premises into 16,000sqft of new social enterprise and business start-up office space is a key component of a larger project by the Council aimed at breathing new life into the town centre.
The overall £8.1m scheme – supported by the Council, Department for Communities and the UK Levelling Up Fund – will also include the opening up of the back of the building to provide new business accommodation as well as the work already underway to refurbish and extend the boardwalk that runs along the river, improving access to the High Street and linking the town centre to the award-winning Antrim Castle Gardens.
Another part of the ambitious scheme involves the creation of an exciting open community space at ‘Ulster Bar’ corner which will serve the community for many years to come and breathe new life into the site that has lay vacant for many years.
Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Alderman Stephen Ross said:
“The investment in Antrim from the UK Levelling Up Fund represents a once in a generation opportunity to radically transform Antrim, revitalising the town centre and the economic benefits associated with that.
“The new office space will provide a fantastic new, modern facility for business start-ups and entrepreneurs as well as established micro businesses looking for larger space.
“This coupled with other projects will help drive people into the town, encourage new residents to set up home and boost our local. Increased footfall visiting shops and enjoying Antrim’s fantastic food and drink offering confirms that Antrim is a great place to live, work and socialise in.”
Aran Blackbourne of Karl Property Investments Ltd added:
“Karl Group has owned the property in Antrim town centre for many years and we always knew that regenerating the space as an office would be a key part of regenerating Antrim.
“At capacity, over 300 people will use the office space on a daily basis for work and those people will use the town centre at lunch time or after work and provide additional footfall into the town.
“The future of Antrim High Street is as a multi-used space for people living and working in the town centre as well as the traditional retail and food and drink offering. Together this mix of uses will boost the town centre and secure its future.”
Antrim received a total of £1.2m from the UK Levelling Up Fund. A second scheme in Glengormley was also awarded £3.9m for a range of projects, including the redevelopment the former police station site into a new state of the art 20,000sqft office/workspace hub.