Portstewart promenade to get £1.5m facelift
The seaside town of Portstewart is to be restored to its former glory with a £1.5m investment.
The facelift will transform the promenade into a modern scenic coastal path linking the town to its two-mile beach.
The cash injection will see the replacement of the existing footways with a new granite pavement, while improved lighting and modern street furniture will complement the marine environment and stainless steel railings will line the crescent-shaped seafront path.
The regeneration work is due to start at the end of this month following an announcement yesterday by Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey.
Most of the businesses along the promenade are family-run and have been in the area for decades.
Ellen Morelli, the co-proprietor of the Morelli ice cream shop, which has been selling treats in the heart of the resort for a 100 years, said she believed the revamp would bring more tourists to the area, which is already popular in the summer months.
"It would make the place smarter and more attractive," she added.
"We need this place set up for tourists and this is a great way to facilitate this.
"Images of Portstewart will be beamed across the world in a few years when nearby Portrush hosts the world's biggest golf (The Open) tournament in 2019."
Further along the promenade is an electrical store owned by James Dempsey, who has been trading in the town for 45 years.
The businessman said the seafront path had not changed much since the 1960s.
"The promenade here is very heavily used, especially in the summertime, and the upgrade will make it look better," he added.
"It is tired-looking and it will spruce the whole front up. It will also tie in the Harbour Hill to the promenade, which was always a problem.
"Portstewart is quite unique in that it doesn't have any chain shops. They are mostly all small, privately owned, and over the years we are proud to say that everyone has invested and improved the properties.
"We all want it to look good and for people to feel good using it too, because coming to a seaside town is supposed to be a pleasure."
Among the independent shops trading in the town is McKenzie's, which has been supplying men's clothes and school uniforms for the past 15 years.
Store owner Derek Leighton welcomed the news and said that local people were always looking for ways to improve the town's appeal.
He added that one of the main problems in the area was the lack of lighting in the evenings.
"The new street lights will certainly help this busy area," Mr Leighton said.
"People come here for the view, so we want to make that as pleasurable as possible.
"The businesses are all family-owned and are very passionate about it."
Denise Rea, a sales assistant for the Fashion Shop, said: "It's a busy place in the summertime, so we need another reason for customers to visit during the winter months.
"This will give the town a fresh feeling while keeping the traditional look."
Ballymena couple Joe and Mary O'Prey are frequent visitors to the town and enjoy walking along the promenade.
Mrs O'Prey said: "I love Portstewart and I love the walk near the sea, so it's lovely to hear the area will be improved."
Dog owner Pete Little often drives from Coleraine just to walk his puppy Billy.
"I just hope they don't change it too much because it is a very charming place and it's nice to keep the tradition," he said.
"This place is packed during the tourist season and then it's quiet during the winter months, so we can enjoy it a bit more."