One of Northern Ireland’s most picturesque villages is to be given a facelift.
Plans for the regeneration of Glenarm, on the north coast, were announced yesterday and will include a piazza and new public space overlooking the marina.
It is also hoped private waterfront development will help put the heart back into a village which has fallen victim to the economic decline of recent years.
“The bank has closed and the Post Office is moving so we are down to one shop and a couple of pubs,” said Stephen Montgomery, chairman of Glenarm Village Committee.
“We need to regenerate the village and promote social and economic development. But we also need to maintain the architectural and historic integrity of the village. It is being passed through so we need to bring the centre of the village to the marina. We need to encapture the people as they travel through so that they realise what’s beyond the Coast Road.
“It is a beautiful setting and that’s the real challenge — to design something to attract people to stay.”
The ambitious plans were drawn up after a £25,000 consultation programme where, for the first time in Northern Ireland, local people have had a say on how they wanted their village to look.
The Prince’s Foundation’s Enquiry by Design project provided expert urban design, architectural advice and worked alongside planners, archaeologists, transport specialists, and tourist officers as part of the process.
Costings for the final regeneration package have yet to be confirmed.
Mr Montgomery added: “It was a unique opportunity working with the Prince’s Foundation experts and we hope it will arrest the decline that’s been happening in the village over a long number of years.”
Among the recommendations is a proposal for a land swap which could see Larne Borough Council secure prime land overlooking the marina to develop for public use. The adjacent site on the river front will be privately developed. The plans also recom
mend that Eglinton courtyard in the Glenarm is opened up with large archways cut into the stone facilitating views across the river and maximising the backdrop of the Glens.
The courtyard will become a piazza flanked by artisan workspaces and small retail units promoting local produce and crafts.
Environment Minister Edwin Poots said: “The Enquiry by Design process is an innovative planning tool which draws upon local knowledge and technical expertise in developing a sustainable regeneration plan.
“It reflects the positive effects of engagement and transparency in the planning process and will be invaluable in providing an example of how planning may be done in the future.
“The implementation of the strategy will require the co-ordination of all parties involved. Planning Service will provide professional resources to help drive forward the project.”