Speaking to Causeway Coast Community Alderman Norman Hillis discusses his future of Portrush.
“As we approach 2017 and look forward to the years ahead leading up to 2020 and beyond, I am really excited about the opportunities which are now emerging to help reshape our town and ensure that it remains as the jewel in the crown of our new Causeway Coast Council.
When our new Council was formed, we were reminded often that the new and expanded Council powers would give members of Council the opportunity to be ‘place-shapers’ of both our local areas and the new Council area as a whole.
I take my responsibilities in this regard very seriously and am determined that we seize all these opportunities. I have a vision for Portrush which I hope will transform some of the tired areas of the town and replace them with new exciting developments which will greatly enhance the town for all who live or visit here.
The first step in this regeneration comes from the proposed re-launch for summer 2017 of the Dunluce Centre from its new owners who are intending to create a state of the art facility offering brand new tourism and leisure facilities. This large multi million investment by the private sector is coupled with a cash injection of £1m for the Council coffers from the sale. This is a real win-win situation for Council and Portrush.
A further spin-off from this new facility will be the provision of a water play area facility which has the clear potential to release the now rather dated facilities at Waterworld for new alternative uses in what is already a very vibrant part of the harbour landscape. Many new uses seem possible perhaps a boutique hotel?
The most important thing is that we find a top quality use which will fit in with our vision for the resort beyond 2020.
Almost everyone agrees that the third key site on my list for renewal is in dire need of being re-invented and refreshed to take account of its strategic location in the town.
The Recreation Grounds is a wonderful site with a scale which offers potential for a wide variety of uses, possible ideas could be an all weather football pitch, skate board facilities, a scaled up diversity playpark along with bowling and tennis. This should be great for visitors and local alike.
The key again is that we need to be innovative and imaginative to come up with ideas that will be relevant for 2020 and beyond. These changes set out in my vision will help to re-shape Portrush for residents and visitors alike – not by keeping tired and declining facilities going based largely on nostalgia but rather by looking forward to the future and shaping a new Portrush to face that future.
These next years will be exciting……..
I hope my colleagues in Council and in the community will share my vision for this new, re-shaped Portrush.”