Portrush ready and waiting for golf's biggest sporting event to begin
PORTRUSH is ready and waiting for golf's biggest sporting event to begin.
With the eyes of the world set to be focused on the Co Antrim town in just three weeks as the 148th Open kicks off at Royal Portrush, a massive regeneration programme has just been completed.
The outcome of the work was officially launched by the Department of Communities (DfC) as it showcased the major improvements carried out in the seaside resort.
The work has included a £6 million public realm scheme, new £5.6 million train station and a £500k programme to enhance the appearance of local businesses.
Other smaller projects have also been completed aimed at improving car parks and the purchase of variable messaging signs to improve traffic flow and ease congestion during major events.
The public realm scheme has transformed the town centre, with high-quality granite materials used throughout the town.
New lighting columns and street furniture have been installed, along with granite plaques mapping out a Heritage Trail that has been developed by the Portrush Heritage Group.
In addition to the public realm scheme, a £500k revitalise scheme was rolled out to 118 business premises in the town, with those participating able to avail of up to £5,000 to make improvements to their premises, including new signage, shop-fronts and painting.
Derelict and vacant properties have also been brought back into economic use through an urban development grant scheme, including a property at Dunluce Avenue, which was converted into three commercial units and 13 apartments.
DfC permanent secretary Tracy Meharg said it was "important that Portrush is looking its very best as the eyes of the world focus on the town".
"Over 215,000 spectators will attend the event and an anticipated TV audience of over 600 million will watch the world’s best golfers take part in what is the biggest sporting event ever to be held in Northern Ireland," he said.
"The department’s investment has really made a difference to the whole feel and appearance of the town.
"All of these improvements have led to a brighter, more vibrant, better connected, safer Portrush that will serve the many visitors and residents who use the town for years to come."
Sean Bateson, Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens borough council, said the regeneration programme has created a "new era for Portrush by transforming the streetscape and built environment".
"The positive improvements to the town’s appearance and infrastructure are befitting of Portrush’s position as a high quality visitor destination and we are very proud of what the programme has achieved," he said.
"This regeneration work will allow the resort to reach its full potential as we prepare to welcome The 148th Open and beyond."
Chris Conway, chief executive of Translink, said the new train station on Eglinton Street will "form a key part of our travel plans to get golf fans to this high-profile event".