Northern Ireland

Ballymena barracks regeneration 'powerhouse' plan

Plans Image copyright DEPT FOR COMMUNITIES
Image caption The 36-acre site has been left derelict since the Ministry of Defence decided to close the barracks in 2006

Plans to re-generate the former St Patrick's Army barracks site in Ballymena could turn the area into an "economic powerhouse", says Communities Minister Paul Givan.

The 36-acre site has been left derelict since the Ministry of Defence decided to close the barracks in 2006.

The proposed development could cost up to £200m but the minister said the money would be made available.

Plans for the site include social housing and an open-air event space.

The plans are now open to public consultation so local people can give their opinion on the development.

Image caption Communities Minister Paul Givan says the announcement shows his commitment to regeneration in Ballymena

The Ministry of Defence gifted the barracks to the Northern Ireland executive back in 2011, and now they have announced how they plan to develop the site.

"This is an exciting opportunity for Ballymena. It's nearly 40 acres of land that we want to develop which could create £200m of investment and we're working with a range of stakeholders to achieve that," said Mr Givan.

"We want to hear what people think so that we can really push forward, the economic opportunities here for the people of Ballymena to make this a real economic power house for this area."

Anne Donaghy, the chief executive of Mid and East Antrim Council, said it was a massive project for Ballymena.

"It will be something that will change the look of Ballymena and change the industry in Ballymena," she said.

Image caption Anne Donaghy, the chief executive of Mid and East Antrim Council, says the development is huge for Ballymena

"We're hoping to get industry in here from technology as well as public services and some housing as well."

The mayor of Mid and East Antrim Council, Audrey Wales, said bringing jobs into the area was a top priority.

"This site will take about £200m to develop and it is so close to our town centre that it can just help to regenerate our whole town centre," she said.

"It is an awful lot of money but with the support of the department and funding through council I believe this is achievable.

"There are so many people committed to making this happen and if you believe that something is going to happen and you work positively towards it then it will happen."

Image caption Audrey Wales, the mayor of Mid and East Antrim Council, said the council was fully behind the project

When asked about they money for the development, Mr Givan said it would be attainable.

"There will be the money made available for this," he said.

"We recognise there needs to be investment in our infrastructure, we need to create the opportunity for jobs to be located here in this area.

"But this is a key site for us to develop for me as minister and for the executive as an opportunity to provide the regeneration that Ballymena needs."

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