Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council (LCCC) is poised to take on management of Hillsborough Forest as part of a £4million project to develop the nearly 200 acre site into a first-class, innovative, natural recreational area for visitors and residents.
The agreement to transfer management responsibilities from the Forest Service to LCCC was a cross-party, unanimous decision agreed at full council earlier this year.
The newly developed family attraction will be enjoyed by people of all ages and will create health opportunities by improving access to physical recreation in the forest. Phase one, involving a spend of £1.5million, is due to begin before the end of April.
It will include an accessible woodland play area for children of all abilities, a new picnic area, improved pathways, an upgraded car park with 70 additional spaces and new seating around the lake. Future phases are still in development and consultations will take place at all relevant stages.
This investment, which is funded by LCCC, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, the Public Health Agency and the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, forms part of LCCC’s Hillsborough Tourism Masterplan, which supports the development of Hillsborough as a key visitor destination.
The Mayor, Cllr Uel Mackin, said: “We’re delighted to be adding Hillsborough Forest to our portfolio of parks and open spaces. This is an exciting opportunity to build on the charm and appeal of this historic village. We’re committed to ensuring that the area is attractive to the local community and visitors alike.”
Phase one is hoped to be completed by winter 2019 and every effort will be taken to ensure disruption is minimised.