Residents rule out plan to reopen Brown's Bay caravan park

Brown's Bay.
Brown's Bay.

Residents in the Brown’s Bay area have ruled out the reopening of the nearby caravan park, a report has found.

It follows a 12-week consultation by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, working in conjunction with the Mae Murray Foundation, on a masterplan for the coastal spot.

Among the proposals were the introduction of ‘glamping’ facilities, footpath upgrades, and a car park expansion, along with redeveloping and improving the caravan park.

The consultation ran from January to April with councillors appraised of the findings at May’s Operations Committee.

First opened by Larne Council in the 1980s, Brown’s Bay Caravan Park was later refurbished and reopened in 2011.

“Antisocial behaviour on the site and poor management led to the park’s closure in 2012,” the report noted.

Despite an identified need for tourist accommodation in the area, feedback from the consultation indicated that “residents living closest to Brown’s Bay are overwhelmingly against the reopening of the caravan park, primarily due to the effects of antisocial behaviour.”

And with the majority of respondents residents of the surrounding area, it would be “hard to justify ignoring the views of those living closest to the site”, councillors heard.

Further feedback suggested the glamping proposal was a “fad” and not sustainable in the long term.

However, there was strong support for other elements including the development of a play park in the area, new signage and interpretation panels, amenity block and car parking improvements, and a safe path to Skernaghan Point.

“Without the support of the Brown’s Bay community and with capital funding coming under increased pressure, it will not be possible to deliver the majority of the proposals set out in the Brown’s Bay masterplan at this time,” the report concluded.

The findings of the consultation will be brought to full council at a later date to be considered by all elected members.

Thanking residents for their feedback, former Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Paul Reid said: “Brown’s Bay is a wonderful natural asset and I look forward to seeing the area redeveloped in a way which is in keeping with the natural beauty of the surrounding area.

“I would be delighted to see investment in the caravan park to bring it back into sustainable use, but in a way which is also sympathetic to the concerns of the local residents.

“Investment in Brown’s Bay opens up potential opportunities to create much-needed new employment within the area, especially with so much focus on growing our tourism offering within Mid and East Antrim.”

Meanwhile the Mae Murray Foundation, with Council support, secured SportNI funding in the region of £30,000 to provide a ramp and temporary matting to enable wheelchair users to access the beach at Brown’s Bay.