A £200,000 ‘spruce up’ has helped lift Ballymena’s town centre image, Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey said today.
The North Antrim MLA took a tour of Ballymena town centre this morning to see at first hand the works completed following the town’s ‘Revitalisation Scheme’.
The aim of the scheme is to support existing traders in the development of their businesses, promote the area as a destination for shoppers, and improve the attractiveness of shop frontages.
The Department for Social Development has provided a total of £200,000 towards the revitalisation of Ballymena over the last two years.
The completion of this latest phase, which has seen an investment of £50,000, has supported the replacement of windows, signage and re-painting along Mill Street, Castle Street and the Lower Bridge Street areas of the town.
Minister Storey said: “I know only too well the challenges facing our town centres and our traders in the current economic climate, and I hope that this investment of £200,000 to the Revitalisation Programme will make Ballymena more appealing, help existing businesses to grow their capacity to trade, and contribute to the long term viability and prosperity of the town.”
The Minister added: “Ballymena is going through a number of changes at present and it has been through hard work and enthusiasm that they have been successful in becoming the first town in Northern Ireland to become a Business Improvement District.
“This will allow the businesses within the defined area of the district the opportunity to work collectively to develop and improve the town in line with their own priorities.”
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Councillor Billy Ashe said: “On behalf of Council, I would like to thank the Department for Social Development for their funding towards this very beneficial scheme and their ongoing support in the regeneration Ballymena town centre. This scheme has transformed the area and made it much more attractive to shoppers and potential investors.”
The Department for Social Development contributed £50,000 to the scheme (Phase 2) with the Council contributing a further £5,000. The scheme was managed by Ballymena Town Centre Development Ltd (BTCD) - a Partnership Company which incorporates Private and Statutory sector organisations with the aim of improving and promoting Ballymena town. The steering group consisted of members of BTCD, including local councillors and traders.
The scheme focused on the Mill Street, Castle Street and Lower Bridge Street. This scheme was to complement a previous revitalisation scheme completed in Church Street and Bridge Street during 2013/14 at a total cost of £150,000 funded by the Department.