I went to meet the people in Portrush golf club about this project very early on. They sought a meeting with me, and I met them. They outlined their vision to capitalise on the Open coming to Northern Ireland. It is a hugely prestigious golf tournament, with huge economic potential for Northern Ireland, and they set out how that could benefit the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council area. I saw very much the opportunity that exists. That is why I continued to pursue the issue with Executive colleagues and through the Executive. I was pleased that, just before Christmas, we were able to get Executive agreement to establish a very high level working group, the inaugural meeting of which I chaired, to drive forward the regeneration project for Portrush. As part of that, I was able to launch a £3 million urban development grant scheme that is specific to Portrush. It is envisaged that the scheme will help to unlock the vacant and underused properties in Portrush and provide long-term regeneration for the town. Applications to the Department for the scheme are due by 22 February. In addition, my Department had previously committed £500,000 to take forward the design and economic appraisal work for two key projects in the town; namely, the public realm scheme and the train station development. Designs for both those projects are under way.
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has set up a quarterly public consultation forum for people to come along and make their voice heard. The last meeting of the forum was at the start of January, and the next one is planned for the start of April. Obviously, it is critical that you get input from local people on how the town is developed. The Executive have agreed in principle to an investment of £17 million for Portrush in advance of the Open taking place. This is a real opportunity to capitalise on that event and present all that is good about Northern Ireland. We really have a jewel in the crown when it comes to the golfing potential that exists here and the landscapes that we have. The Open coming to Portrush is too important to miss, and I am pleased that there is now a clear pathway to ensure that we maximise the potential that will come from it.