BREAKING : Ballycastle secures £8.1 million in Levelling Up Fund for new leisure centre

A total of ten projects in Northern Ireland will receive grants from round two of the flagship Levelling Up Fund.

One of those 10 projects is for the development of a new leisure centre in Ballycastle with £8.1 million to support health and wellbeing across the borough.

Ballycastle Sinn Féin Councillor Cara McShane has welcomed the news this evening, saying:

“The facility will include a 25-meter swimming pool, gym, wet play, changing places facility, walking/running trail, outdoor pump track and accessible play park.

“Ballycastle was just one of ten projects that were successful in this funding round across all 11 Councils.

“This is brilliant news for Ballycastle and the wider Glens community. The indoor leisure facility for Ballycastle has been a legacy Moyle Council project for many years. I would like to thank the Strategic Investment Board officers and Council staff who submitted a strong application to the Levelling Up Fund in recent months. As noted in the application, Ballycastle has been ‘starved of investment.’

“The only indoor leisure facilities are in a 60+-year-old converted school with no swimming pool and the community here has long campaigned for facilities/services equivalent with other parts of Causeway Coast and Glens Council area.

“The total investment in this wet leisure centre is around £15million, which will act as a growth stimulus.

“When completed, the indoor leisure facility will compliment Council’s investment in the Shared Campus project on Moyle road which will provide for outdoor pitches – including the conversion of a grass soccer pitch to 3G; floodlighting; upgrade of three court sports hall to four court; and upgrade of changing and ancillary accommodation.

“I know the people in this community will be delighted with this news. It is a significant step forward to finally realising a health and well-being project that has been long over-due and that will finally give Ballycastle a much-needed financial boost in the Causeway Coast and Glens area.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

“Through greater investment in local areas, we can grow the economy, create good jobs and spread opportunity everywhere.

“That’s why we are backing a number of projects with new transformational funding to level up local communities in Northern Ireland.

“By reaching even more parts of the country than before, we will build a future of optimism and pride in people’s lives and the places they call home.”

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said:   

“We are firing the starting gun on more than a hundred transformational projects in every corner of the UK that will revitalise communities that have historically been overlooked but are bursting with potential.

“This new funding will create jobs, drive economic growth, and help to restore local pride. We are delivering on the people’s priorities, levelling up across the UK to ensure that no matter where you are from, you can go as far as your talents will take you.”

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris said:

“From regeneration in Maghera to a brand new wellbeing centre in Enniskillen, the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund continues to deliver across Northern Ireland.

“This latest round of the fund will see £71m invested in local infrastructure projects to support economic growth, drive regeneration, help deliver net zero and boost pride in place.

“Building on the £49m already invested from round one of the Levelling Up Fund, this is a fantastic outcome for communities here.”

Projects in Northern Ireland awarded Levelling Up Fund grants today are:

· £5.1 million to modernise 20 rugby clubs from Coleraine to Clogher Valley and Limavady to Lisburn, including new female changing rooms.

· Belfast International Airport will receive £2.3 million to purchase electric buses and deliver new sustainable fuel sources These changes will have significant benefits for both international travellers and local people with better air quality and reduced noise.

· The city of Bangor will undergo a huge £9.8 million transformation to create new waterfront gardens with spaces for events and activities, as well as helping to unlock the wider regeneration of the area.

· A leisure and wellbeing centre will be created in Enniskillen with £20 million as part of a new development called ‘Lakeland’, which will provide a wide range of indoor and outdoor leisure and recreation facilities incorporating the surrounding park, waterside, and the Lough Erne

· Over £6 million to re-invigorate the 191-acre Carnfunnock Country Park with an upgraded visitor centre and sporting facilities.

· A new first-class leisure and recreation centre at Camlough Lake will be built with £2.8 million, along with improved parking facilities and picnic areas and better walking and driving routes.

· The community of Ballycastle can now look forward to the development of a new leisure centre with £8.1 million to support health and wellbeing across the borough.

· Maghera is set to benefit from new green space and recreational facilities thanks to a £9 million grant. The money will also go towards transforming the former Maghera High School into a new industrial park to boost local business.

· Belfast’s beloved art-deco Strand Picturehouse will be rescued with £4 million to fund urgent works, preserving and showcasing Northern Ireland’s cinema heritage, creating a multi-functional arts space for East Belfast.

· £3.5 million to support the expansion and upgrade of the F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio in Banbridge. Funding will help the gallery realise its potential as an internationally renowned cultural space.

The major investment announced today follows the allocation of £1.7 billion to 105 projects from round one of the Levelling Up Fund in 2021– taking the total allocated so far from the fund to £3.8 billion.

The Government has also confirmed there will be a further round of the Levelling Up Fund, providing more opportunity to level up places across the UK.