Randalstown helping to inspire £4m Carrick heritage project

Carrickfergus Townscape Heritage Initiative project board members pictured with ARCHES directors at the landmark bridge and viaduct over the River Maine in Randalstown. INCT 26-702-CON
Carrickfergus Townscape Heritage Initiative project board members pictured with ARCHES directors at the landmark bridge and viaduct over the River Maine in Randalstown. INCT 26-702-CON

Carrickfergus town centre’s regeneration team is seeking inspiration from Randalstown as it advances a £4m heritage initiative.

Representatives from the Carrickfergus Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) visited the historic town to learn more about ongoing work there.

They were hosted by Randalstown ARCHES Association, coinciding with the start of its annual community festival involving 50 events over 10 days.

Formed in 1995, ARCHES has been successful in managing more than £3million direct investment including a £1million THI scheme between 2001 and 2006 which was a significant catalyst to Randalstown’s recent development.

Deputy Mayor of Mid and East Antrim and THI project board member, Councillor Cheryl Johnston said the visit provided a valuable insight into the regeneration work in Randalstown.

She added: “Townscape Heritage is a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) regeneration programme for towns with conservation areas that aims to preserve and enhance buildings through targeted grant assistance, raise local awareness of built heritage and skills and generally stimulate and support wider economic regeneration.

“The HLF has contributed over £21million to 25 towns in Northern Ireland since the THI scheme started in 1995 and together with levered public and private match, represents a total of some £50million.

“Former Carrickfergus resident and current ARCHES director Brian McGookin MBE said the Carrickfergus THI scheme at £4million is on a much larger scale than Randalstown and that he looked forward to Carrick residents and town centre retailers reaping the benefits that will accrue.

“There are few places in Northern Ireland with as much heritage as Carrickfergus and the THI can help unlock the town’s potential.”

Managed by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, the Carrickfergus THI scheme is expected to make the first grant awards in the autumn of 2017, with funding for up to 30 eligible buildings available until the end of 2020.

Cllr Billy Ashe, who chairs the THI Project Board, with serving vice-chair Robert Stewart from Carrickfergus Regeneration Partnership, thanked the ARCHES directors for their warm welcome and helpful insights and congratulated chairman George Graham OBE on the group’s success and recognition.

He also voiced his appreciation to Phillip Magennis, Culture and Heritage officer from Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, who gave a presentation on the history and restoration of Antrim Castle Gardens and Clotworthy House.

The restored gardens are proving a success and it was highlighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund was the major funder in the restoration works costing £6million.