Public Information

Ballymena and Larne Investment Plans

Council and the Department for Communities (DfC) are undertaking a consultation and public engagement process to help develop a Vision, Strategy and Investment Plans for both Ballymena and Larne Town Centres. 

This follows on from a similar process undertaken for Carrickfergus Town Centre. 

Given the restrictions on travel and public gatherings presented by Covid 19 the proposals for each town can be viewed below.

Once you have read the draft investment proposals the option to comment on and add value to them is available by following the link and completing the survey at the end. 

The consultation will be open from 25 January to 15 February 2021.

Ballymena Investment Plan     Larne Investment Plan

Ballymena

 

Understanding Ballymena

The following information provides a snapshot of Ballymena Town Centre/Town in 2021

  • Ballymena is the largest settlement within the Borough and has a population of 30,000
  • It serves as a focal point for some 50,000-60,000 of the Borough’s residents
  • Ballymena’s population has remained relatively static across the period from 1981 to 2011… but in line with NI the age profile is moving to an older population… by 2030 the percentage of our population over 65 will be close to 21%... up from 16% in 2018. This will influence how the town needs to develop to meet everyone’s requirements
  • Ballymena is recognised as one of NI’s main retail towns/destinations… next by volume after the cities of Belfast, Derry/Londonderry and Newry
  • Vacancy of commercial property (retail, offices, and services) is higher than the NI average… and is increasing. It was 14% in 2019 and is 18% in 2020
  • It enjoys a strategic location in NI adjacent to main arterial routes and with a rail link to Belfast
  • The town has been a base for significant manufacturing and export activity… though some of its main manufacturing employers have closed in recent years

Understanding How Towns are Evolving to Meet the Current Challenges

Whilst towns like Ballymena are facing challenges there are opportunities. The future for towns relates to how we use them and the role or function they play in our lives. There are many examples of how towns are ‘reinventing’ themselves. The approaches taken by them include:

Towns with sustainable retail

Towns will still provide retail experiences through specialised focus offers and the highest level of customer care:

  • Destination and experience retail
  • Locally sourced and developed product

Towns as places to connect

Towns will continue to be places where people access social connections and experiences. Towns will evolve to fulfil this role by:

  • Developing parks and recreational spaces… this will include small ‘pockets’ of green space distributed in and adjacent to the Town Centre
  • Quality and independent hospitality offer with events and activities
  • Spaces and places will be developed to support small events and activities
  • Accepting that how people travel will change - walks, paths and trails will connect citizens with the Town Centre and other key locations and facilitate access to  the wider town

Towns as places to live

Historically people lived in our Town Centres.

  • There is a requirement for additional housing units (private and social)... Supporting the development of residential projects in our towns will provide a type of house/apartment/flat demanded by the market and also bringing additional footfall and life to our town centres
  • Our population is getting older… some people want smaller scale housing options in town which are connected to services, activities and communities. This also requires age friendly public realm and spaces

Towns as healthy places

There is a move to outdoor recreation (walking, cycling, running) in green and urban spaces.

  • Safe and accessible walking and cycling routes
  • Connections from the town centre to parks and leisure facilities

Towns as places to work and create

  • Towns as environments to support new types of business activity and approaches to working, co-working, hot desks and flexible space options
  • Many start ups are in the digital/new creative sectors and these types of businesses can/prefer to work in town centres close to other services and hospitality so require access to appropriate and affordable Town Centre space
  • Many organisations (private and public) are now promoting or moving to flexible working practices… from home or close to home. This requires flexible options in Town Centres
  • Artisan and studio space for creatives… which also adds to the experience of visitors to the town
  • Pod parks and places

Ballymena  Projects

A. Refurbishment of Targeted Vacancy and Dereliction

  • Targeted building refurbishment to remove blight and reoccupy vacant buildings e.g. apartments.
  • Take advantage of regeneration opportunities which create a more attractive town centre environment, encourage town centre living, and protect and enhance the built heritage of the town centre.

B. Development of Key Sites

  • Pop up park including green space, (seating, planting, events and play space) flexible work units, parking and programming for events to diversify and create activity in the Town Centre on currently underused sites.
  • Precursor to the residential-led mixed-use masterplan for sites such as Wellington St, Alexander St, Bridge St and Trostan Avenue.

C. Braid River and Henry Street

  • Improved and attractive pedestrian/cycle connections linking the town centre with the river and Henry Street.
  • To include the creation of high-quality spaces along the riverfront which adds activity, encourages interaction and reconnects the town with this currently underused natural asset.
  •  Precursor to the residential-led mixed-use masterplan.

D. Church Tower - Restoration & Access

  • Works to restore the tower, ensuring safe access for visitors.
  • Landscape improvements, maintenance, lighting and interpretation of the graveyard.

E. Street Animation

  • Development of a varied programme of high-quality events to take place in and around the town centre, attracting footfall and activity including the use of the bandstand.
  • Focus should be given on a year-long programme promoting inclusivity, welcoming all to the town centre.

F. Walking & Cycling Strategy

  • Improving ease of navigation and continuing efforts to establish a cohesive cycle and pedestrian network through the town centre, linking adjacent neighbourhoods and open spaces.
  • Moving towards walking and cycling becoming the natural choice for travelling in and around the town centre through established, attractive and safe routes.

G. Bus & Train Station Upgrades

  • High-quality upgrade to existing facilities including an attractive arrival / public realm space to provide a welcoming gateway to both visitors and residents and encourage a shift to more sustainable forms of transport.
  • Public realm upgrades to Galgorm Road reconnecting and creating a more pleasant link between the bus, train station and town centre.

H. Public Realm Extensions

  • Extending the streetscape improvements to encourage movement to and from the town centre, strengthening existing links and transforming the visual quality of connections.
  • To include signage and cycling provision.

Ballymena Survey


​​Larne

 

Understanding Larne

The following information provides a snapshot of Larne Town Centre/Town in 2021

  • Larne is the second largest seaport in Northern Ireland and has a population of 18,705; this makes it the third largest town in the Borough 
  • Despite the increase in online retailing 80% of consumer expenditure still takes place on the high street
  • The role of the town centre is changing., the improving town centre environment is not driven solely by a ‘pure retail’ offering … the food, hospitality and beverage sectors are driving growth in spend and footfall
  • Vacancy of commercial property (retail, offices and services) is higher than the NI average… and is increasing.  It was 19% in 2019 and increased to 22% in 2020
  • Larne has 951 car parking spaces; 596 operated by the Council and 355 by the private sector
  • The Department for Communities (DfC) publishes the Town Centre Database… it reports that in 2018 there were 429 incidences of crime within Larne Town Centre; 44% were listed as anti- social behaviour and 11% shoplifting… this has reduced from 504 in 2012
  • Larne bus and railway stations are 0.3 miles from the town centre
  • Whilst Larne is an entry point to Northern Ireland most visitors by-pass the town
  • The Local Development Plan identifies more leisure (bars and restaurants) and residential development as having the potential to increase footfall and spending

Understanding How Towns are Evolving to Meet the Current Challenges

Whilst towns like Larne are facing challenges there are opportunities. The future for towns relates to how we use them and the role or function they play in our lives. There are many examples of how towns are ‘reinventing’ themselves. The approaches taken by them include:

Towns with sustainable retail

Towns will still provide retail experiences through specialised focus offers and the highest level of customer care:

  • Destination and experience retail
  • Locally sourced and developed product

Towns as places to connect

Towns will continue to be places where people access social connections and experiences. Towns will evolve to fulfil this role by:

  • Developing parks and recreational spaces… this will include small ‘pockets’ of green space distributed within and adjacent to the Town Centre
  • Quality and independent hospitality offer with events and activities
  • Spaces and places will be developed to support small events and activities
  • Accepting that how people travel will change - walks, paths and trails will connect citizens with the Town Centre and other key locations and facilitate access to the wider town

Town as places to live

Historically people lived in our Town Centres.

  • There is a requirement for additional housing units (private and social)…. Supporting the development of residential projects in our towns will provide a type of house/apartment/flat demanded by the market and also bringing additional footfall and life to our town centres
  • Our population is getting older… some people want smaller scale housing options in town connected to services, activities and communities. This also requires age friendly public realm and spaces

Towns as healthy places

There is a move to outdoor recreation (walking, cycling, running) in green and urban spaces.

  • Safe and accessible walking and cycling routes
  • Connections from the town centre to parks and leisure facilities

Towns as places to work and create

  • Towns as environments to support new types of business activity and approaches to working, co-working, hot desks and flexible space options
  • Many start ups are in the digital/new creative sectors and these types of businesses can/prefer to work in town centres close to other services and hospitality so require access to appropriate and affordable Town Centre space
  • Many organisations (private and public) are now promoting or moving to flexible working practices… from home or close to home. This requires flexible options in Town Centres
  • Artisan and studio space for creatives… which also adds to the experience of visitors to the town
  • Pod parks and places

Larne Projects

A. Riverdale

  • Pop up park including green space, (seating, planting, events and play space) flexible work units, parking and programming for events to diversify and create activity in the town centre on the soon to be vacant site.
  • Pre cursor to the residential-led mixed-use masterplan.

B. Refurbishment of Targeted Vacancy and Dereliction

  • Targeted building refurbishment to remove blight and reoccupy vacant buildings e.g. apartments.
  • Take advantage of regeneration opportunities which create a more attractive town centre environment, encourage town centre living, and protect and enhance the built heritage of the town centre.

C. Streetscape Improvements

  • High-quality streetscape to Town Centre streets, including Dunluce Street, Point Street and Lower Cross Street, encouraging footfall and creating a more attractive town centre environment.

D. Town Centre Animation

  • Development of a varied programme of high-quality events to take place in and around the town centre, focusing on promoting inclusivity and creating new opportunities for life and activity.
  • A series of events will ensure public realm areas are brought to life and make sure the town centre becomes a destination.

E. Underpass Environmental Improvements

  • Environmental improvements and the introduction of uses to create a functional and safe space beneath the Harbour Highway will generate life, activity and encourage people into the town centre.
  • A pedestrian crossing, on Bridge Street, linking the spaces underneath the Harbour Highway will encourage permeability and along with animation, such as art, lighting and events, will help to transform the space.

F. Improved River Path Connections

  • An improved connection along the river to encourage movement and provide stronger connections between the town centre and surrounding areas, including the football stadium.
  • Clearing the overgrown vegetation and improvement of wildlife habitat will turn the river into a focus along the connecting route, contributing to its value as a public asset.

G. Lagoon

  • Pop up waterfront including public space, (seating, decking, planting) and activation through water-based activities.
  • Opportunity for a programme of events to encourage the use and make people aware of the lagoon and its biodiversity.
  •  Precursor to the residential-led mixed-use masterplan.

Larne Survey