A HEALTHY number of traders and other interested parties attended an open forum at Ballyclare Community Concerns on Tuesday, October 9 to discuss possibilities for a £150,000 town centre improvement project.
The meeting, chaired by Ballyclare Chamber of Trade President, Darren Black, was attended by councillors Jackie Mann, Jim Bingham and Pat McCudden, as well as Lisa O’Kane from Newtownabbey Borough Council’s Economic Development department.
A slideshow presented to the gathering helped explain the DSD-funded ‘Revitalise’ initiative and what a successful project could mean for Ballyclare town centre.
Commenting after the meeting, Mr Black said: “The first stage of the application process was to establish the area to be revitalised. The Chamber carried out a survey of town centre based traders to assess this and the majority agreed that Main Street, and in particular the lower end, should be the main focus of a revitalisation project. This area is also of great importance to the rest of the town, given that it is generally the main traffic thoroughfare and the lasting impression people get of Ballyclare.”
With the target area agreed, a 10-person Steering Group responsible for compiling the project and setting the criteria for applications from traders/property owners was established. The group will comprise five representatives from the Chamber of Trade, marketing expert Michael Stewart, consultant Scott Edmondson, Lisa O’Kane of Newtownabbey Council and potentially representation from the Department for Social Development. One position on the new body is yet to be filled.
“With a group appointed, the next stage is for Newtownabbey Borough Council to conduct shopper surveys which will assess opinion and footfall. Once completed, the Steering Group will then finalise an application for funding. Should this then be agreed, traders and property owners of the area will be asked to make an application for grant assistance,” Mr Black added.
Grant funding available under the scheme is expected to include assistance for new signage, shop front upgrades and general property improvements.
The Steering Group is hoping to involve local tradespeople such as painters and joiners in the project.