Ahead of a major international sporting event – The 2019 Open Championship, being held at Royal Portrush, preparation is well underway to ensure the popular coast tourist town is best prepared.

A Municipal effort

Public realm works to improve the streetscape in Portrush is well underway and is being led by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council in close collaboration with other statutory bodies such as the Department for Communities (DfC), Central Procurement Directorate (CPD) and DfI Roads.

The work, which includes new granite paving, lighting and street furniture, will complement the other recent investments in Portrush including the train station, East Strand and West Bay promenade. With the public realm scheme over 65% complete and as works to improve shop frontages gets underway, the regeneration programme is making excellent progress.

The main aspects of the Portrush Regeneration Programme focuses on the following priority areas:
• Public Realm
• Redevelopment of train station
• Urban Development Grant specific to Portrush
• Transport/Parking
• Implementation of other key regeneration initiatives in the Portrush Regeneration Strategy

Hardscape collaborated extensively with Aecom with regard to the Public Realm aspects of the regeneration projects.

Bringing the design concept to the Fore

The priority was to make a significant and impactful enhancement to the public realm, reflecting the strategic opportunity brought with The Open. To have the scheme completed by then in July 2019, detailed design, partnership approval, statutory approval and procurement needed to be completed by summer 2017.

Aecom’s design team set out to reflect the Council’s aspiration of achieving a high quality, stylish and contemporary design with the overarching aim of the project to improve the quality of the public realm by:

  • Providing a safe, accessible, attractive and well connected place for people to live in, work and visit.
  • Using high quality materials in keeping with the town’s status as a premier tourist resort.
  • Widening footways where possible to enhance the pedestrian experience.

The concept was drawn initially to reinvigorate pedestrian linkages between the East Strand and West Strand through the town centre to bring together the natural environment and urban experience which make Portrush unique.

The scheme is in two parts, the Promenade which has a predominantly natural feel and the town centre which has an urban character of its own.

The East Strand was designed by The Paul Hogarth Company with Newtownstewart as contractors. The West Strand of Portrush brought in landscape architects MWA Partnership with FP McCann as contractors and the latter being also involved for the public realm aspects to the scheme with Aecom.

Materials chosen on par with the surroundings

The artscape process is reflected in the production techniques, with flamed Kobra granite being used as the channels to separate a Nordic Yellow, Royal Grey and Pink Pearl granite mix paving area from Crystal Black granite.

The mix particularly was chosen to reflect the coastal aspects of the scheme with subtle nuances and undulations of the sand and sea close by. Other materials were Yellow Rock, Kobra and XR Red granite blister tactiles and Kobra granite corduroy granite tactiles – again, chosen for the colour aesthetic to the surroundings and the durability aspect.

Granite is of course a highly durable natural stone that is suitable for almost any kind of external application and is always a popular choice. Hardscape can supply a large range of textures, colours, formats and blends of different types of granite.

The Fairway to the future

In January 2017 the Department announced the launch of a Portrush Regeneration Programme. The £17m Executive-endorsed initiative has involved a major programme of capital works to help regenerate the town in the run up to, and beyond, the 148th Open, which will be held at Royal Portrush Golf Club in July 2019. The Programme is helping to transform the town into a successful, high-quality resort recognised as a centre for tourism services, activities and international events on the North Coast.

Most of the work is aiming to be completed before July 2019. However, some work will continue after that to ensure there is a lasting legacy and Portrush is positioned to maximise the economic return that this regeneration investment will deliver for this popular seaside resort town on the Causeway Coast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Client: Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council; Landscape Architects: Aecom; The Paul Hogarth Company; MWA Partnership; Contractors: FP McCann; Newtownstewart; Graham Construction; Paving materials and Artscape supplier: Hardscape