£150k sought for Antrim and Newtownabbey disability access projects

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council is seeking £150,000 funding for a series of disability access improvements.

Monday, 21st September 2020, 4:09 pm
Antrim Castle Gardens

The local authority has applied to the Department for Communities (DfC) for support through its Access and Inclusion Programme.

The programme is aimed at improving access to and participation in arts and cultural activities by people with disabilities.

Previously, DfC indicated that any 2020/21 programme would require match funding from local authorities.  However,  it has since advised that full funding is being made available for projects to the value of £30,000.

Applications submitted by the council include the creation of a sensory garden at Hazelbank Park, in Newtownabbey, with wheelchair access, raised beds and sensory planting to “enhance the experience” of this park for people with disabilities.

It is estimated that the project will cost up to £30,000.

At Antrim Castle Gardens, the council is seeking to create accessible and sensory garden areas within Clotworthy House which will benefit the Friends of Antrim Castle Gardens, a volunteer group that has many members with access needs and visitors to the gardens with a range of disabilities. It is estimated that this project will cost up to £30,000 to complete.

The council is also seeking to develop half a kilometre of new accessibility trails at northern end of the Valley Park, in Newtownabbey, to address Disability Sport NI and Valley Parkrun requirements at a cost up to £30,000. Read here for previous work at the location.

The local authority also wishes to improve accessibility at Rea’s Wood by improving accessibility from Antrim Loughshore Park.

The council says this stretch of trail is “frequently undermined by winter storms, proving impassable for people with mobility issues and wheelchairs”. Previous funding enabled an upgrade to part of the section closest to Rea’s Wood. To improve the remaining section closest to the carpark would cost up to £15,000.

At Threemilewater Park, in Newtownabbey, the council is seeking an extension of accessibility trails into meadow grassland area to connect with the Newtownabbey Way at a cost of up to £30,000.

The application was approved at a meeting of the borough council’s Community Planning Committee on  Monday evening.

Antrim Ulster Unionist Councillor Leah Smyth said she was “definitely happy to support anything with this level of inclusivity”, adding that “something as simple as taking a child to a park is so important” and she was “beyond excited to see this coming up”.

Read previous council discussion on accessibility funding here

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter.

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