The stunning Antrim Castle Gardens played host last week to Antrim Councillors, business owners, investors and key individuals committed to the future success of Antrim.
Hosted by the Mayor, Councillor Billy Webb, the Tourism and Investment Breakfast Briefing provided an opportunity to reflect on the unique proposition that Antrim has to offer the tourism sector and investment community and celebrate the exciting future plans for the town.
The Mayor commended the great progress which has already been made in transforming Antrim town, noting in particular the restoration of the Castle Gardens, now the borough’s premier tourist attraction and the completion of The Gateway at the Loughshore which has been further enhanced with the Protector of the Lough sculpture.
Council Officers provided an overview of the exciting and ambitious plans that are underway to regenerate Central Carpark and Castle Mall which will see a more focussed retail offer developed combined with the creation of much needed new homes. A new mini urban park will also be created to the rear of the centre and an upgrade of the carpark to improve the area for residents and visitors.
The Council is entering into an agreement with the Department for Communities for two years to operate the Ulster Bar Corner site. In advance of this the site will be transformed with new event space, recreation space, planting and lighting to be installed. This will create a focal point in the town centre which will now be linked to the Gardens and other attractions through an events programme.
The development of Steeple Park to the rear of the Civic Centre was also highlighted including the plans by Apricot Healthcare to establish a healthcare hub on part of the site, improving the health services on offer to local people. Combined with the refurbishment of Steeple House and its outbuildings and the improvement of the parkland and Round Tower including new paths and planting, this site will become a much sought after hub for health and well-being.
The Levelling Up Fund grant secured for regeneration projects in Antrim and Glengormley is also progressing at pace. The Antrim scheme will bring forward 18,000 square foot of new office/workspace on the high street and drive footfall back into the town particularly during the day time. The scheme will also create a Riverfront Scheme, opening up the rear of the High Street property to take advantage of the riverside location and see an extension of the boardwalk to improve connectivity between the town, Gardens and beyond.
The Mayor paid tribute to the businesses who have invested in the local economy in recent years, driving economic growth in tourism, manufacturing, construction, housing, retail and health to name but a few.
He commented that,
‘This is a very exciting time for Antrim, indeed I would go as far as to say it may be the ‘best’ time the town has enjoyed in recent memory. A combination of high levels of investment, a wonderful built heritage and plenty to offer the increasing number of people that are choosing to establish their homes here is creating a real momentum for change in the town. The Council wants to work with partners in all sectors to build upon the success that has already been achieved and by working together to create more jobs and opportunities for our people and a wonderful destination for visitors’.