Double funding boost for Carrick town centre

High Street, Carrickfergus. INCT 10-410-RM
High Street, Carrickfergus. INCT 10-410-RM

A pair of major regeneration projects aimed at repairing buildings and improving shop fronts could provide a big boost to Carrick town centre.

The £4million Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI), which “helps communities regenerate deprived towns and cities across the UK by improving their built historic environment,” is set to launch in Carrick on Wednesday October 26.

The THI will target parts of the town centre properties within the city walls for restoration, focusing on clusters in Market Place and Castle Street, High Street, West Street, Lower North Street and Governor’s Place.

A list of 29 priority properties and 17 reserve properties has been compiled.

In addition, councillors were updated on the progress of the £200,000 Revitalise scheme, which will comprise a shop front improvement scheme including a promotional campaign in High Street, Lancasterian Street, Irish Quarter West, Antrim Street, Upper North Street and Albert Road.

The scheme aims to complement the works carried out under the previous Revitalise programmes and enhance the £2.5million public realm work completed in 2014.

The THI scheme aims to fit within the council’s overall regeneration strategy, and the Council has been awarded £1.7m by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) towards the five-year programme. The council will also provide match funding of £550,000.

The priority properties identified by the council in High Street are Bell’s, Dobbin’s Hotel and Campbell Solicitors.

In Market Place, they include RA Glass, Ollie’s Cafe, Boots.

Meanwhile, in Governor’s Place and Castle Street, Kelly’s and the building housing Halo Salon, G Mills Estate Agents and Rumours Cafe are classed as priority projects.

Several properties on Lower North Street and the former warrant officer’s residence and gaol in Antrim Street are being targeted as a priority too.

In parallel to the building work, a £68,500 education project will be carried out as part of the THI scheme with the aim of providing “a legacy of increased heritage skills and appreciation in the local area.”

So far, the council has secured £2,239283 of the £4,036086 total needed to implement the scheme.

It hopes to secure a further £1,580,712 from property owners and £2,161,74 from public funders.

During a presentation on the scheme to a council committee on Monday night, Cllr Billy Henry asked THI officer Frank McGrogan what would happen if the council couldn’t secure the £1.5million from property owners.

“We’re in difficulties,” replied Mr McGrogan.

“There are 29 priority projects for funding, the cost of those projects may increase.

“There is a certain element of first come first served.

“The pot may run dry.

“There is a lot of work to be done with property owners to make it an attractive proposition.”

Cllr Mark McKinty nominated Cllr John Stewart and Cllr Jim Brown to the THI Board.

Cllr William McCaughey seconded this, and also nominated Cllr Billy Ashe and Cllr Cheryl Johnston. He was seconded by Cllr Beth Adger.

The same four members were also voted onto the steering group for the Carrick Revitalise Scheme.

Cllr McKinty and Ald McKeen asked that Carrick’s THI and Revitalise schemes could be “tied in” to maximise their benefits.