Mid and East Antrim Forest Masterplans

Client: Mid and East Antrim Borough Council

The Challenge

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has commissioned Outscape to prepare Outdoor Recreation Masterplans for three forest sites: Woodburn and North Carn, Glenarm, and Portglenone. 

These Masterplans will deliver on actions within the following key strategic documents: 

  • Outdoor Recreation Strategy for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council (2019): Outscape’s role as lead consultant in the preparation of this strategy has provided an unrivalled insight into the strategic rationale for these masterplans. 
  • MEABC’s 15 year Community Plan: Where development proposals align with 5 strategic key themes, 1) Good Health and Wellbeing; 2) Sustainable Jobs and Tourism; 3) Our Environment; 4) Community Safety and Cohesion, and; 5) Progress in Education. 
  • In addition, the masterplans will demonstrate how they can deliver on the Council’s emerging Integrated Economic Development Strategy and Tourism Strategy. 

Key actions relating to each forest were identified within the Council’s Outdoor Recreation Strategy. These have helped to inform the approach to each site’s development, and detail will be refined within the output of the Masterplans: 

  • Woodburn Forest was identified as a potential ‘Signature Product’ which will form a key part of tourists’ wider itinerary when visiting MEABC. Signature Products also hold significant appeal to domestic visitors and the local community who want to casually explore and connect with the distinctive local landscape  
  • Glenarm Forest was identified as a potential ‘Activity Hub’ (with potential synergy with Glenarm Estate) which is attractive to tourists as part of a wider itinerary, however, it will also draw a solid base of domestic and local users. Activity Hubs enable a variety of users to enjoy the same site through shared services and multi-use trail networks.  
  • Portglenone Forest was identified as a potential ‘Community Hub’ which refers to outdoor recreation products that connect communities to high-quality greenspace and enable residents to be more active, therefore improving health and wellbeing, and social cohesion. Community Hubs provide connectivity between different activities, such as walking, and/or cycling, natural adventure play and water-based activities such as canoeing and angling.  


The Role

The three forest masterplans will provide a robust framework to guide the development and future management of these sites. They will consider:  

  • The current national and local outdoor recreation trends and strategic context relating to the economy, tourism, land use and funding.  
  • The current economic value of visitors, bed nights, spend and economic benefits both direct and indirect associated with outdoor recreation activities across the borough as a baseline indicator for measuring future growth.  
  • The role and relationships with our community partners and other key stakeholders, including Forest Service NI, NI Water, National Trust, Woodland Trust, private landowners (e.g. Glenarm Castle Estate) and any other relevant agencies or groups.  
  • The current and future opportunities to improve our people’s health and wellbeing through outdoor recreation.  
  • The balance of satisfying local need as well as increased tourism potential  
  • Analysis of opportunities to participate and ensuring equality.  
  • The current and future strategic community engagement opportunities provided through outdoor recreation.  
  • Appropriate land management planning in relation to a range of issues including access, environmental, biodiversity, countryside management, and ensuring any potential development is sustainable.  

Staff Lead(s): Claire McLernon, Karen Coulter, Joe Murray

Project Funders

This work has been commissioned by mid and East Antrim Borough Council with funding through the DAERA Environmental Challenge Fund Competition 2022-23