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Bangor Waterfront Project Envisages Development of Ballyholme Yacht Club as Watersports Centre

20th December 2021
Bangor Waterfront Project involves the provision of high-quality public spaces and the regeneration of Bangor Marina and Ballyholme Yacht Club (above) Credit: Adam Walker

Investment in a two-mile stretch of Bangor Waterfront on Belfast Lough is part of the recently announced £1billion Belfast City Deal funding. Plans already published for Bangor Waterfront aim to “reconnect the town with the sea through a range of attractions and experiences”. It involves the provision of high-quality public spaces and the regeneration of Bangor Marina and Ballyholme Yacht Club. The plans say that the club “has been identified as the preferred location within Northern Ireland for major sailing and water sports events by the Royal Yachting Association”.

Ballyholme Yacht Club as it is todayBallyholme Yacht Club as it is today - the club has been identified as the preferred location within Northern Ireland for major sailing and water sports events by the Royal Yachting Association

Some of the scheme, which has been designed by Hemingway Design and Aecom, has already caused controversy. There are concerns that the character of Kingsland, the only substantial green area at Ballyholme, will be lost with the development of “tourism accommodation pods, café kiosks and a skate park (now an Olympic sport) set in landscaped gardens.

"Ballyholme Yacht Club has been identified as the preferred location within Northern Ireland for major sailing and water sports events"

There is also the potential for a small cluster of high-quality residential developments to the south of the area”. And the graphics in the Bangor Waterfront document show a landscaped area replacing the very large car park near the Club which may be to the detriment of competitors in large events hosted by BYC. The plans continue “The redevelopment of BYC would provide Bangor with a world-class facility for water sports and the ability to host international events”.

A graphic of the proposed Waterfront development at Bangor, County DownA graphic of the proposed Waterfront development at Bangor, County Down

The Club refers to the proposed new building as Ballyholme Yacht Club and Watersport Centre, to reflect its increased range of activities, which now include diving, SUPs, kayaking, and swimming.

Sea swimming on Belfast Lough at Ballyholme Yacht ClubSea swimming on Belfast Lough at Ballyholme Yacht Club

Kingsland, the only substantial green area at BallyholmeThe tennis courts at Kingsland

It is understood that the Council will publicise opportunities to engage in the whole scheme and that everyone with an interest in the scheme can become involved. Subject to financial/ project approvals and planning permission, work ‘on the ground’ will begin in 2023 (phased), with the projects delivered over 8 to 10-years.

Kingsland is the only substantial green area at BallyholmeKingsland is the only substantial green area at Ballyholme

David McMullan, who leads a small ‘redevelopment’ sub-committee reporting to the Executive Committee of BYC, has explained the Club’s position “On Wednesday 15th December it was announced that £1 billion funding for the Belfast Region City Deal had been approved. This is the first City Deal to be signed for Northern Ireland. Ards and North Down Borough Council (ANDBC) had submitted their plans for the Waterfront Redevelopment in Bangor as part of this Regional City Deal, which included the redevelopment of BYC, and we understand proposed plans have been reviewed and approved in principle. We expect to hear early in the New Year details of the funding for ANDBC’S plans and then be able to conclude discussions with ANDBC on how that will impact the proposed redevelopment of BYC. We will then present this to the membership for discussion and hopefully approval”.

The £40m funding for Ards and North Down Council will be matched by its contribution of £20m from the Council.

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down

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