MR ROBIN SWANN MLA, Ulster Unionist Party Assemblyman and his party’s candidate for Westminster for North Antrim has challenged the DUP Social Development Minister “to take urgent steps towards radically developing Ballymoney’s derelict Linenhall Quarter into a much-needed and thriving economic hub for the town”.
Assemblyman Swann threw down the gauntlet to the DUP Minister following a question to the Minister.
Mr Swann said: “Some urgent questions need to be asked of the DUP Social Development Minister concern the future of Ballymoney’s Linenhall Quarter. I quizzed the Minister if there are plans to enable future development of the derelict Linenhall Quarter.
“The Linenhall site has been decaying for many years to such an extent that the derelict site has become a blot on the local landscape for over two decades now when in reality, it could be developed into an economic hub for the town. The regeneration of this area is a vital ingredient in improving Ballymoney’s social, commercial and tourism potential.”
Specifically, Mr Swann had asked the Minister for Social Development to detail any departmental plans for the regeneration of Linenhall Street in Ballymoney.
In his response to Assemblyman Swann, the Minister said: “In January 2014, my Department published a Masterplan for Ballymoney town centre which set out the regeneration initiatives that would assist with the long-term sustainable development of the town.
“The Masterplan identified the Linenhall Quarter, which includes Linenhall Street, as a key development opportunity within the town centre and recommended a range of potential uses for this area such as residential, commercial, leisure and public space.
“Since the publication of the Masterplan, my Department has provided funding for a revitalisation scheme which is aimed at improving the appearance of properties within the town centre. My Department will continue to work in partnership with the new Causeway Coast and Glens Council to take forward regeneration initiatives until April 2016 when urban regeneration powers and associated budgets will transfer to the new council,” the Minister told Assemblyman Swann.
Mr Swann added: “I will be closely monitoring this situation to ensure that these fine words from the Minister become an economic reality and not just empty rhetoric in the run-up to the General Election on 7 May.
“As the UUP candidate for North Antrim, I will be making it part of my constituency manifesto that Linenhall Quarter receives the necessary funding to enable it to become a major economic hub for the Ballymoney region.”