New look Lansdowne will celebrate ‘natural heritage’ of the area

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A taste of the wild character of the North Coast in the heart of Portrush - that’s the vision for the new look Lansdowne in Portrush.

Last Tuesday night, members of Coleraine Borough Council heard about the ‘Lansdowne Materplan’, developed by the Paul Hogarth Company in conjuction with Coleraine Borough Council and other stakeholders.

The masterplan is a high level vision for the area, which will be incorporated into the Portrush Regeneration Strategy.

Attending the meeting was Mr James Hennessey from Paul Hogarth Company, who spoke to members about the aims of the master plan and some of the elements that could be incorporated into the regeneration project.

Mr Hennessey said that the masterplan would ‘celebrate the natural heritage of the area and revitalise the existing aspects of the site’.

Improvements proposed include new public art, uses for the former Lifeboat Station, restoring Port an dhu Harbour for public access, improving traffic circulation, improvements at the Coastal Zone and the regeneration of Antrim Gardens. The blue pool area would also be rejeventated as part of the plan.

Speaking further about Port an dhu, Mr Hennessey said that the coastline in that area is protected and that any re-development has to follow ‘a protocol’. He added that any proposal is to ‘sensitively restore the harbour’.

The meeting heard that Portrush Regeneration Group were unable to adopt the report. The group requested that any work at the former Lifeboat House would be linked to the Harbour.

The group expressed other concerns about some of the proposals.

Taking these views on board, a reccomendation for Council to approve the masterplan with the inclusion of the views of the Portrush Regeneration Group was put to the meeting.

Independent councillor Christine Alexander expressed concerns that adopting the recommendation was ‘premature’. She said that the opinions of Portrush Heritage Group has not been recognised. The councillor pointed out that proposals by Coleraine and Portrush Yacht Clubs to develop a sailing centre needed ‘a linkage between the harbour and the lifeboat house’. She proposed that any decision should be postponed until all interested parties had the chance to present to Council.

Alliance councillor Barney Fitzpatrick pointed out that the masterplan was only a plan and that ‘things would be tweeked’. He proposed that the recommendation was accepted, this was seconded by Alderman Sam Cole.

UUP councillor David Harding agreed saying: ‘this is only an over arching view, anything is possible’. DUP councillor Mark Fielding added: “There will be a final plan, there will tweeks and changes along the way. I support the recommendation, but I think we should also make sure that other views are considered, and I would ask that these presentations are put on the agenda sooner rather than later.

“We need to know the depth of feeling out there.”

Councillor Alexander pointed out that council had already agreed to seek expressions of interest on the former Lifeboat House at Landsdowne. She said: “The sailing initiative may use the Lifeboat House. Council needs to think carefully about expressions of interest other than for maritime uses, otherwise we have lost the building.”

Chairman, Mayor, DUP councillor George Duddy pointed out that any expressions of interest would come back before council for a final decision.

Councillor Fitzpatrick agreed to withdraw his proposal and councillor Fielding’s ammendment to accept the recommendation and get a presentation from Portrush Heritage Group at the earliest date was carried. Councillor Alexander abstained.