Plans are in the pipeline to revamp the ecos centre, including its leaky roof which, it has been well documented, could cost £300k alone to repair.
Mid & East Antrim Council has submitted a planning application with the aim of “maximising lettable and useable space in the ecos building”.
Council have approved works necessary to the ecos roof as part of the overall scheme which includes cosmetic refurbishment of the café, meeting room and lecture theatre space.
In addition, reconfiguration of the space currently used for boiler provision and galleries will provide further lettable useable space totalling 19,924sq.ft. at the ecos building.
An officer report to a Council committee last week revealed the ultimate aim was to expand the ecos site, even into other sites in the Mid & East Antrim Council area, including St Patrick’s Barracks, with “the final goal” being “an Eco-park concept themed to suit the range of local businesses and others that could be induced into the area”
Originally built as an educational tool for renewable energy and a model of sustainability at a cost of £10m, 15 years on, visitors have largely stopped coming .
The original displays are obsolete, the building is primarily used for office space and the roof has developed major leaks which will cost in the region of £300k to repair.
The issue of whether or not to fix the roof had been the subject of indepth discussion by the former Ballymena Council but no decision was ever reached on it.
M&EA councillors have also been considering options for the ecos centre with a view to supporting civic objectives of growing the economy and encouraging job creation with much of their discussion on the issue taking place behind closed doors with press and public excluded.
However, details of the proposed programme of refurbishment were revealed at a meeting of their Economic Growth & Development Committee last week when members were also informed that current tenants and staff “have been appraised of the proposals and any necessary relocations have been discussed”.