Northern Ireland: derelict quarry to get UK£100m harbour village makeover

Northern Ireland: derelict quarry to get UK£100m harbour village makeover
Published: 26 June 2009

A derelict quarry is to be transformed into an environmentally friendly harbour village under a UK£100m (€117.2m) development plan approved today.

Stormont Environment Minister Sammy Wilson has given the green light to the ambitious planning application for the site of a former cement works on the shore of Larne Lough.

As well as around 450 homes the Magheramorne Quarry will host restaurants, shops, a community centre, a hotel, a harbour-side tourist point with viewing tower and boating facilities.

Two years ago scenes from the popular BBC drama series Messiah were shot on location at the 153ha site and, inspired by that success, the developer - Lafarge Cement UK - also intends to build a film studio and backlots at the quarry.

Another key feature will be a major cycling centre, which it is hoped will be of a standard to host televised World Cup mountain biking events.

A heritage railway and visitor centre and an ecology/art park are also included in the masterplan, as is a world-class cycling centre, an events area, a bird watching and interpretation centre, a diving centre and an industrial archaeology park.

"Two hundred years of quarrying and cement production has taken its toll on the landscape and I am delighted that this scheme will remove what has become a major eyesore from one of our valued scenic routes and rejuvenate the area."

The eco-friendly dimension will be based on the goals of zero carbon, zero waste, sustainable transport, sustainable construction materials, local and sustainable food and water, natural habitats and wildlife and a commitment to fair trade.

The minister added: "The project will be completed in a number of phases and the first phase will see the development of the World Cycling Centre, the first purpose designed mountain bike events facility in Ireland and one of the first in the UK.

Lafarge Cement UK land and planning director David Simms said the project was not about profit.
"For the best part of 100 years, the cement works at Magheramorne was a major employer in the area and a fundamental part of the day-to-day life of the local community," he said.

"This project is a big ’thank you’ to the local community. It is not about making money, it is about leaving a legacy from which the next generation can benefit, at the same time as creating an exemplar of how we can all live our lives in a more environmentally-conscious way."

Lafarge is a World Wildlife Fund conservation partner.

"Now we are working with WWF to establish the harbour village at Magheramorne as one of the very first One Planet Initiative Communities in which residents aim to use only their fair share of the Earth’s resources," added Mr Simms.