Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots has announced £7.4 million for the Whitespots Country Park project, which will see a park created at the old industrial lead mines site between Newtownards and Bangor.
The funding will come from the first tranche of allocations from the Executive’s City/Growth Deals Complementary Fund.
These allocations were agreed as part of the Executive’s draft Budget 2022-25.
Visiting the site of the future country park at Whitespots, Mr Poots said: “The investment of over £7.4 million in this new parkland will transform a derelict industrial site into an active community space for the people of north Down and visitors alike.
“This project will provide a significant capital injection in the area and will develop our local environment to provide much needed green space for citizens.”
The Minister had earlier visited Grey Point Fort and Ballycopeland Windmill projects developed under the LEADER initiative and Rural Tourism Scheme.
Both projects help to celebrate the area’s rich and varied past, in the case of Grey Point Fort in partnership with Dunree Fort in County Donegal as part of a north-south project.
Mr Poots commented: “During this centenary year I was lucky enough to visit Grey Point Fort and Ballycopeland Windmill, two fine examples of Northern Ireland’s built heritage.
“All three projects that I have visited show us the contribution that they made in the past to the north Down area, economically and towards the safety of our nation.
“I believe the investment in these projects will see them becoming must visit attractions and will take them well into the next century and provide an economic benefit to the people of Ards and North Down.”
Deputy Mayor of Ards and North Down Robert Adair expressed his excitement at what the investment means for the borough.
He said: “The news that a multi-million-pound grant has been secured for the redevelopment project at Whitespots Country Park is a great win.
“The benefits are numerous, encouraging more local people to make the most of the outdoor spaces on their doorstep and prompting others outside of the borough to come and enjoy the outstanding beauty Ards and North Down has to offer.
“The redevelopment will further enhance the lifestyle experiences of our community, our tourism offerings and will lead to the creation of new jobs, all of which is great for a sustainable local economy.
“We really look forward to its successful completion.”
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