Have your say on the future of barracks

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Ballymena people and lcoally based organisations will be able to have their say on the future role of the former St. Patrick’s Barracks.

The barracks, once the training depot for the Irish regiments, has been in mothballs since it was closed some years ago.

In 2015, the huge site was acquired by the Department for Social Development from the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister in September 2015. Since then DSD has been progressing the development.

Social Development Minister Lord Morrow MLA has appointed The Paul Hogarth Company as planning consultants and they will produce a ‘whole’ plan for the site as well as potential sites that could be developed by individual stakeholders. There will be a transport assessment, looking at how road, river, cycle paths and footways can access and integrate the site with the town and surrounding environment.

A key part of the design will be participation from the local community and the first event is planned for mid April. Residents, business owners, community groups and anyone with an interest will be invited to tour the site and to contribute their requests, opinions and expectations to help shape its future development.

The Minister said: “St Patrick’s Barracks has been part of the local community for many years. With the closure of the military base we now have the opportunity to transform the site for community use thus providing local people with a valuable resource for years to come.

“The sheer size of the site will provide many opportunities and development possibilities, and I look forward to seeing the consultant’s creative ideas. I would also encourage the people of Ballymena, and the surrounding areas, to be part of the process by having their say on how this site can best serve their needs.”

Mid and East Antrim Borough Mayor, Councillor Billy Ashe said: “I would urge everyone with an interest in the development of this important resource to attend the ‘drop-in’ session that has been organised, and to take the guided tours on offer. The event will allow the local community to input to the development plans and has been arranged for Thursday 14 April from 2pm until 7pm.”