Minister pledges £224k for town centre projects

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SOCIAL Development Minister Nelson McCausland this week announced the appointment of consultants to undertake a major assessment of traffic and transport in Glengormley and Ballyclare town centres.

The long-awaited survey, which is expected to cost around £74,000, will help inform what measures may be required to mitigate traffic congestion and provide additional car parking based on current service provision and potential future developments. It will also assist in identifying and prioritising any future public realm improvements.

Mr McCausland also announced funding of £150,000 for a Revitalisation Programme in Glengormley.

Both projects are key proposals in the Department for Social Development-funded Newtownabbey Regeneration Strategy.

Published in March 2011, the strategy aims to secure investment by the private sector in new retail, residential and commercial developments in both town centres.

The Revitalisation Programme in Glengormley, which has been developed in conjunction with Newtownabbey Borough Council and representatives of the local traders’ body, will be targeted in Portland Avenue and the Antrim Road/Ballyclare Road, either side of the Ferbro Buildings. The funding will be used to improve the appearance of shop frontages, gables, vacant premises and gap sites making it more attractive.

The aim is to initiate the revitalisation of the area and make it more appealing to shoppers and visitors, thereby increasing trading transactions and footfall in the area. A branding and marketing campaign will also be implemented following completion of the environmental improvement works planned for Portland Avenue.

Speaking about both projects, the Minister said: “I am pleased to be able to announce the start of both these projects, which will support the Regeneration Strategy for both Ballyclare and Glengormley. Consultants have now been appointed to carry out a transport study in both towns to examine the current traffic situation and how it might be affected by the future developments. It will provide recommendations for improvement to support regeneration in both towns.

“The Revitalisation Programme aims to re-invigorate towns by enhancing shop frontages, derelict and vacant sites, making them more appealing to shoppers and visitors. Both projects have been progressed through the Newtownabbey Regeneration Strategy Implementation Team and I would commend this partnership approach.”

Welcoming the investment, Mayor Victor Robinson commented: “In these difficult trading conditions we are conscious of the need to improve our town centres to make them viable and attractive for investors and shoppers. We expect the Revitalisation Project to act as a catalyst for further investment in Glengormley and the traffic study is the first step in shaping future infrastructure requirements in Ballyclare and Glengormley. We look forward to working with other statutory agencies and the private sector to deliver the Newtownabbey Regeneration Strategy.”

Nigel Hamilton, who represents the Glengormley Traders’ Association and Chamber of Commerce said: “It’s great that the Minister has found the money for the Revitalistaion Programme and the traffic survey, but the survey needs to have meaning. There needs to be funding in place for future projects to make this worthwhile, otherwise it’s just a waste of public money.”

The President of Ballyclare Chamber of Trade, Darren Black, added: “This is the first step to addressing the major issue of car congestion in the town. This and parking issues are the two biggest problems that traders and shoppers of Ballyclare face on a daily basis. However, a survey is only part of putting the issues right and the Chamber hopes that there will be funds made available to implement the findings of the survey.”