Heart of Ballymoney to be given a £1m spruce-up
A £1 million upgrade for a north Antrim town will be a boost for retailers and shoppers, it's been claimed.
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council is advertising for a contractor to carry out a major environmental improvement of Ballymoney town centre.
It is seeking tenders for a public realm scheme scheduled to start this summer and to be completed by April 2020.
Funding has been secured by the Department for Communities to deliver the series of environmental improvements.
In November the department confirmed the necessary funding had been secured, and the procurement process could commence.
Similar to neighbouring Portrush, where FP McCann was appointed for the seaside town's public realm improvement scheme, the upgrade is likely to include measures such as the removal of surfacing and kerbs and replacement with natural stone kerbs and paving.
Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts welcomed the investment, but added that such schemes can cause disruption for shoppers and traders.
"Investment in the public realm of a town centre is always a long-term positive development for retailers and consumers," he said.
"That being said, we have had concerns about the disruption to trade that these schemes can cause in the construction phase.
"We want to see an enhancement of the Business Rates Hardship fund, which would provide rates relief to traders who have lost business during public realm construction.
"Sadly, with the Assembly being down, we have not been able to move forward our proposals."
Loss of business was a common complaint about public realm improvements in towns such as Carrickfergus. The town centre's last remaining butcher Mark McDowell said the work to replace paving had affected trade "big style".