Levelling Up Funding To Improve Green Spaces In Northern Ireland

Every council in Northern Ireland will receive funding this financial year from the UK Government to enhance green spaces in their communities, Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison has announced today (17 February 2023).

More than £1.3 million will help councils to fund 26 projects that will see new trees planted, cycle paths and trails expanded, play parks improved and a new King’s Garden developed to mark the coronation of King Charles later this year.

The funding will allow councils to go further with their plans to level up and unlock additional investment in local green spaces this year and next.

It is part of Northern Ireland’s £127 million share of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) that will deliver tangible improvements for local people, with positive impacts on pride in place, local growth and life chances.  A number of the projects will also receive match funding from councils and support from Northern Ireland Executive Departments.

Today, the UK Government is also confirming that it will work with councils and their local partners to allocate around £13.8 million from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund over the next two years to improve areas across Northern Ireland through a mix of community and neighbourhood infrastructure, further green space developments, active travel enhancements and local arts and cultural activities, all supported by local community volunteering.

 Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison said:

“It’s really important that people can take pride in the place they live and have easy access to more green spaces like gardens, play parks, cycle paths and forests.

“This funding is going to all eleven councils in Northern Ireland and will support projects that visibly improve community facilities for everyone. These include a new King’s Garden in Newtownabbey, new paths in Drumcairne and Derrynoyd forests and a restored timber boardwalk at Killyfole Lough.

“I pay tribute to the councils and communities for the imagination and breadth of their ideas, and look forward to seeing them benefit communities for years to come.”

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris said:“Green spaces are so integral to all communities, and it’s fantastic that every council area across Northern Ireland will benefit from this boost from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

“This investment in community infrastructure will deliver health and wellbeing benefits as well as improving the local environment, and builds on the £71m allocated to community projects across Northern Ireland from round two of the Levelling Up Fund last month.”

This UKSPF funding will contribute to more than 20km of new or improved cycle ways or footpaths – the equivalent of the distance from Newry to Banbridge. It will also support 8,145m² of new or improved green or blue space this year.

The full list of approved projects are:

  • Antrim and Newtownabbey – £101,395 towards the development of a pleasure garden within Hazelbank Park, Newtownabbey to mark the coronation of His Majesty King Charles III. This will also serve as a key tourist attraction located at the gateway to the Causeway Coastal Route.
  • Ards and North Down – £113,925 towards a playground at De Wind Drive in Comber, providing a wider range of play equipment for younger and older children, as well as inclusive equipment for those children with disabilities.
  • Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon – £152,191 towards five council owned play parks: Thornhill, Cline Road, Scarva, Ervine Place, Scotch Street.
  • Belfast City – £240,367 for installation of a new path and community garden in the Botanic Gardens and helping to create a learning facility for soil enhancement, food production and testing.
  • Causeway Coast and Glens – £98,600 to improve three currently derelict rural green spaces (Scally Park, Islandmore and Dromore Avenue) and refurbish one rural play area in Glenullin.
  • Derry City and Strabane – £104,944 contribution to Strathfoyle Greenway, a 2.7km long greenway, with street lighting controlled by a smart system to minimise energy consumption and impacts on wildlife.
  • Fermanagh and Omagh – £81,288 towards replacement of obsolete timber walkways at Killyfole Lough, a suite of signage and nature trail interpretation, a biodiversity programme to include education booklets that link to the signage around the Lough and an outdoor classroom in the adjacent ‘Secret Garden’.
  • Lisburn and Castlereagh – £103,752 towards a Community Garden and an intergenerational sports area in Lough Moss, Carryduff, disability access paths in Billy Neill MBE Country Park, Dundonald and tree planting to replace those with ash dieback disease in Lisburn New Cemetery.
  • Mid and East Antrim – £96,732 to enhance the basic infrastructure of five parks and open spaces across the borough.
  • Mid Ulster – £104,600 to restore multi-use trails, improved car and bicycle parking, vegetation clearance, signage and seating and picnic areas in Drumcairne and Derrynoyd Forests.
  • Newry, Mourne and Down – £126,733 to improve the Fallows Trail, a circular walking route from Kilbroney Park through the forested areas of Rostrevor Forest to open largely unenclosed upland habitats. This 18km trail will provide a multi-use walking and running trail for both the local people and visitors.