Covid recovery: Mosaic, markets and music in Mid and East Antrim’s action plans

Brightening up the Town Hall steps at Larne’s Fairhill is among projects outlined in Mid and East Antrim’s Town Centre Action Plans.

Monday, 21st June 2021, 7:03 pm

The borough council has set aside £15,000 for each of its three towns to deliver initiatives aimed at supporting the economic recovery of town centres.

Plans include a mosaic at the Town Hall steps which link Upper Cross Street and Victoria Road to be created in association with Larne Renovation Generation.

A “pop-up Christmas artisan market” is being planned as well as live music events.

Laharna Retail Park in Larne has lost three chain stores.
Laharna Retail Park in Larne has lost three chain stores.

A “pop-up shop” funded by the Department for Communities for 12 months is due to open in August.

Larne has lost three national retailers from Laharna Retail Park, Carphone Warehouse, New Look and M&Co and Greggs bakery failed to reopen its Main Street outlet after the first lockdown last year resulting in the loss of 10 jobs.

An online survey of Mid and EastAntrim businesses showed that 72 per cent of traders favoured speciality markets; 60 per cent, live music events; 58 per cent, family fun days; 40 per cent pop-up shops and 39 per cent exhibitions.

These findings are outlined in a report to be presented to the council’s Borough Growth Committee on Monday evening.

It was also noted that businesses wish to avail of training in social media, digital marketing, grant applications, visual marketing, financial guidance and customer service. One hundred and six responses were received.

In Carrickfergus, monthly artisan markets will continue at Market Place, a “pop-up shop” will be available from August and music events will be held.

In Ballymena, a “pop-up shop” will open in August, a Christmas market will be held at Greenvale Street and seasonal family activity and music events will take place.

A £322,000 Covid Recovery Small Grants Scheme has already been made available to help 212 independent traders in Mid and East Antrim become “Covid secure” and to promote town centres as safe environments to cover costs such as shop frontages, awnings, outdoor furniture, heaters and signage.

The Town Centre Property Repurposing Pilot Grant Scheme launched by the local authority l in collaboration with the Department for Communities (DfC) remains open.

It will assist capital development and repurposing works on vacant commercial properties within the borough’s town centres.  The scheme will provide funding up to a maximum of £30,000 per project.

This funding will be made available through the £1.4m  DfC Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme.

Speaking at the scheme launch, former Mid and East Mayor Councillor Peter Johnston, said: “Council’s vision is that by focusing on regeneration initiatives such as this, we will ultimately help boost footfall in our town centres.

“I would urge the owners or leaseholders of vacant properties within town centre boundaries to check their eligibility for this scheme.”

The funding will support the repurposing of vacant properties for future uses including retail, hospitality, health and fitness, residential accommodation and professional services.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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Click here to read: Larne Renovation Generation’s tourist map an ‘asset’

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