Carrickfergus is set for a cash injection of more than £38m to boost the town’s reputation as a world-class heritage site and a must-visit destination for tourists from around the world.
Almost £1bn of co-investment outlined through the Belfast Region City Deal proposals sees substantial investment earmarked for the ambitious project in the town, which is one of the oldest on the island of Ireland, with a rich heritage and history.
Belfast Region City Deal sets out a plan to grow the economy, create up to 25,000 jobs, boost tourism, increase skills, encourage investment and develop infrastructure.
The economic opportunity includes plans for around £80m of investment in Mid and East Antrim, including the St Patrick’s Barracks site in Ballymena, The Gobbins and Carrickfergus.
Councillor Billy Ashe MBE said the investment in his hometown of Carrickfergus was a game-changer for the local economy and tourism market.
He said: “This programme of investment will regenerate, reposition and rebrand the town of Carrickfergus, placing it firmly on the map as a heritage-led tourism hub, part of the wider Belfast story and vital starting point on the internationally recognised Causeway Coastal Route.
“This will include the development of the Castle, the walls and the surrounding environment as a world-class heritage site and visitor attraction.
“It will also deliver high quality public realm works, enhancing the Castle setting, and facilitating access to the town centre as well as creating an exceptional venue for residents and visitors.”
Councillor Robin Stewart said: “I was also part of a delegation which visited Westminster ahead of the budget announcement to showcase the fantastic potential in our borough.
“The subsequent announcement of £350m Treasury funding in the Budget was excellent news and the hard work continues to deliver on the significant benefits offered through Belfast Region City Deal for the people of Carrickfergus, Mid and East Antrim, and Northern Ireland as a whole.
“As an elected member and local businessman I am really enthused by this investment which I believe will breathe new life into our town.
“Carrickfergus has a proud and illustrious history, and this plan will go a long way to ensuring it has an exciting and prosperous future.”
Belfast Region City Deal is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to drive our new industry sectors, including digital, tourism, financial and business services.
Late last year Chancellor Philip Hammond MP confirmed the £350m Treasury commitment to bolster the proposed £1bn City Deal and the partners are now working closely together to move the projects to the next stage.
Seven Mid and East Antrim councillors sit on Mid and East Antrim’s Belfast Region City Deal committee. They include Councillor Audrey Wales MBE, Alderman Robin Cherry MBE, Councillor Billy Ashe MBE, Councillor Robin Stewart, Alderman Gregg McKeen, Councillor Timothy Gaston and Councillor Robert Logan.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, alongside the other local authority partners, will continue to work in close collaboration with the Northern Ireland Civil Service, Northern Ireland Office, Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Treasury as well as our Universities and Further Education Colleges to move forward with the City Deal plans.