MEMBERS of the Ballymena Business Improvement District (BID) and Ballymena Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry heard from senior officers from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council on the future plans of St Patrick’s Barracks in Ballymena at a BID Business Breakfast.
The room in the Adair Arms Hotel was filled with those from the private sector keen to learn of the impact of the proposed changes to the Barracks and how they would assist Ballymena’s town centre and the overall area.
A detailed briefing of the hard work and engagement that had taken place around St Patrick’s Barracks, along with their future plans, was given by Linda Williams, Director of Development of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
Linda Williams discussing the exciting project, said: “Many of us are aware of the historic nature of this 49-hectare site and the nostalgia around these buildings which were built in 1937.
“However, we are now looking to the future regeneration of this wonderful area, strategically linking it to the town centre and ensuring it is fit for purpose in the 21st century and strong support from the private sector is required.
“There is a proposal for a mix of housing of some 140 houses, a £26m health and wellbeing centre, which has already been approved by the Council, a consolidated campus for the Northern Regional College, new road infrastructure linking the Ecos Centre to the Larne Link Road, the proposal of a University Technical College, and a view to have the City Deal Funded Integrated Industrial Inspiration and Innovation Centre (i4C).”
The Castle Tower School is already on site.
Alderman Robin Cherry MBE, President of the Ballymena Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “This is something I’ve been involved with for some time and although these plans are ambitious, I’m delighted to see how it is progressing with the Council’s input, ensuring this large site is used for the future of Ballymena and the surrounding area.
“I’m heartened by the news this will create approximately 450 jobs and involve 10,000 young students in a career inspiration programme.”
The BID for Business breakfast closing remarks were given by the BID Manager, Kathleen McBride, who said: “I’m sure that you found this presentation extremely informative and would welcome the linkages to the town centre and the positive engagement in ensuring that BID members understood what this single largest development site had to offer Ballymena as a whole.
“I would like to thank Linda Williams, Director of Development of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, for giving up her valuable time to spend with us this morning. It was very worthwhile.”
The Council officers also took the opportunity to brief those present on the Belfast City Deal and Michelin.