Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Bright future on horizon for ‘historic’ Groomsport

A rural development grant of £4,575 has been used to fund a technical study into the possible development of Groomsport’s seafront and its tourism potential.

North Down Borough Council received the funding following a successful application to the Down Rural Area Partnership (DRAP), which is responsible for administering more than £13m to improve rural communities across the Ards, Banbridge, Down and North Down council areas.

Originally a small fishing village, Groomsport has developed in recent years as a centre for onshore and water-based recreation, with events at Cockle Row Cottages and sailing.

The village is one steeped in history with Cockle Row Cottages being approximately 300 years old and The Cockle Island Boat Club at the harbour dating back to 1974.

The need for investment in Groomsport was identified in 2006, when the village’s decline, specifically in regard to shops falling into disrepair in the Main Street, an increase in the ageing population and lack of employment opportunities, were noted.

The results of the new study will aid the Council in any future development decisions on how best to develop and improve Groomsport’s tourism opportunities and to attract visitors to the village, ultimately benefiting the rural community by improving village facilities and increasing turnover for local businesses.

“The rural development programme is about making a difference to rural communities at a whole range of levels,” said councillor Harry Dunlop, deputy mayor of North Down.

“This funding has allowed a comprehensive and detailed plan to be created, with the input of local people, which is the starting point for that difference being made in Groomsport.”

To apply for rural development funding you must live in a rural location in one of the four council areas — rural is defined as a settlement with a population of 4,500 or less — or if you live in an urban setting, you must be able to demonstrate that your project will principally benefit a rural area.

Farmers, private businesses, community groups, not-for-profit organisations and social economy enterprises, as well as individuals over the age of 18, can all take advantage of the funding |opportunities.

Applications must be in by February 14 at 4pm and can be made at www.eugrants.org or hard copy are available by calling 028 9182 0748.

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