The Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Paul Michael, officially cut the sod of the new Gateway Centre at Antrim Lough Shore Park.
This event marks the next stage of the exciting plans to enhance the Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s leisure and tourism offer on the shores of Lough Neagh.
The project has received funding of £500,000 from DAERA, with a further £50,000 provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund, through the Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership scheme.
The new Gateway facility will showcase a unique setting on the shores of Lough Neagh and complement the council’s high quality facilities at Antrim Castle Gardens and across the borough.
The building will provide a restaurant with an external terrace offering unparalleled views across Lough Neagh, along with office and interactive exhibition space, public conveniences, changing facilities and space for an activity provider.
Lough Neagh Rescue will also have a presence in the facility, giving them full sight of and direct access to, the Lough for the first time.
Speaking at the sod cutting ceremony, the Mayor commented: “I am pleased to officially cut the sod at the Gateway Centre which I firmly believe will establish itself as yet another jewel in the Borough’s list of wonderful tourist attractions.
“The Gateway Centre at Antrim Lough Shore Park is set to become a major tourist attraction.”
Fiona McCandless, the Department’s Deputy Secretary with responsibility for Rural Affairs highlighted that “the £500,000 funding investment in the ‘Lough Neagh Gateway Centre’ will act as a driver for encouraging rural tourism and particularly out of state visitors”.
She added: “By investing in tourism projects in rural areas the Department believes linkages to other attractions and ‘tourism corridors’ can be developed which should help to encourage further visitors to these rural areas.
“This in turn has the potential to generate significant additional economic and tourism benefits for each area.”
It is hoped that the Gateway Centre will open in late summer 2019.