Levelling Up funding of £71m to help 10 projects across Northern Ireland

The Strand Cinema, Bangor and Belfast International Airport will all benefit

The Government has said that 10 projects in Northern Ireland will share £71 million of levelling-up funding.

The funding will include almost £10 million to create new waterfront gardens in the city of Bangor, transforming the former Maghera High School into a new industrial park at a cost of £9 million and £20 million to create a new leisure and wellbeing centre in Enniskillen.

The grants also include a £5.1 million boost for 20 local rugby clubs, including new female changing rooms to help increase women's participation in sport across Northern Ireland.

There is also £4 million pledged to rescue Belfast's art-deco Strand Picturehouse.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the investment in historically overlooked areas would create jobs and economic growth.

Mr Sunak said: "Through greater investment in local areas, we can grow the economy, create good jobs and spread opportunity everywhere.

"That's why we are backing a number of projects with new transformational funding to level up local communities in Northern Ireland.

"By reaching even more parts of the country than before, we will build a future of optimism and pride in people's lives and the places they call home."

The levelling up vision was previously pioneered by former prime minister Boris Johnson, who promised to "level up" towns and communities across the UK.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said: "From regeneration in Maghera to a brand new wellbeing centre in Enniskillen, the UK Government's Levelling Up Fund continues to deliver across Northern Ireland.

"This latest round of the fund will see £71 million invested in local infrastructure projects to support economic growth, drive regeneration, help deliver net zero and boost pride in place.

"Building on the £49 million already invested from round one of the Levelling Up Fund, this is a fantastic outcome for communities here."

Projects in Northern Ireland awarded Levelling Up Fund grants are:

- £5.1 million to modernise 20 rugby clubs from Coleraine to Clogher Valley and Limavady to Lisburn, including new female changing rooms.

- Belfast International Airport will receive £2.3 million to purchase electric buses and deliver new sustainable fuel sources.

- The city of Bangor will undergo a £9.8 million transformation to create new waterfront gardens with spaces for events and activities.

- A leisure and wellbeing centre will be created in Enniskillen with £20 million as part of a new development called 'Lakeland', which will provide a wide range of indoor and outdoor leisure and recreation facilities.

- More than £6 million to re-invigorate the 191-acre Carnfunnock Country Park with an upgraded visitor centre and sporting facilities.

- A new leisure and recreation centre at Camlough Lake will be built with £2.8 million, along with improved parking facilities and picnic areas.

- The development of a new leisure centre in Ballycastle with £8.1 million to support health and wellbeing across the borough.

- A £9m grant will create new green space and recreational facilities in Maghera, including transforming the former Maghera High School into a new industrial park.

- Belfast's art-deco Strand Picturehouse will receive £4 million to fund urgent works.

- £3.5 million to support the expansion and upgrade of the F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio in Banbridge.

The Government has also confirmed there will be a further round of the Levelling Up Fund.

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