Harryville community raises more than £100,000 for £1m regeneration of area
A people-led movement formed to regenerate one of the most deprived areas of Ballymena has raised more than £100,000 towards the creation of a £1million business and community hub.
Raglan Community Development Regeneration Society raised £111,050 in community shares and will now begin work on a project to transform the former Raglan Bar in Harryville into a thriving business, community and cultural centre.
The project is being supported by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, which is providing £125,000 of matched funding and by Slemish n tha Braid Credit Union which has pledged £190,000 towards the renovation work.
Raglan Secretary William Millar said the response from the business community and the people of the area to the share offer had been incredible.
“They have really bought into the idea of becoming stakeholders in a process to bring hope to an area that has suffered years of neglect and decline. This project is all about using people power to create a shared space with business units, exhibition areas and educational services that will benefit everyone and attract more commerce to the area.”
The Raglan Bar, which was destroyed by an IRA bomb more than 40 years ago, has undergone extensive restoration following its acquisition by Slemish n tha Braid Credit Union.
Raglan Community Development Regeneration Society plans, (initially by way of a 99 Year Lease with an option to purchase at a later point in time) to develop the part of the building not used by the credit union to transform it into a multi-purpose business/community hub used by residents, local community organisations and businesses alike.
When completed, the centre will contain up to nine new business units, a space for community projects and groups and an exhibition area reconnecting Harryville to its rich industrial history.
The share offer was carried out with the help of the Building Change Trust’s Community Shares Ready! Programme run by Co-operative Alternatives, an organisation set up in Northern Ireland to promote and raise awareness of co-operatives and community benefit societies.
Tiziana O’Hara of Co-operative Alternatives said: “This is a great example of collaboration between a credit union and community benefit society and how shares have been used to leverage additional funding. With the community buying into the project this has created confidence from the statutory authorities to support the project.
“The journey, initially started by Slemish n tha Braid Credit Union to help regenerate the Harryville area will now be carried on and further developed by Raglan Community Development Regeneration Society.”
Investors were able to buy as little as £100 and up to a maximum of £20,000 worth of shares to become part of the community owned enterprise. The first phase of the building process will consist of 843 square feet of workspace incorporating six business units and a community space. The community co-operative will be run on a one member one vote basis.
For more information go to www.theraglan.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org