Further delay at Irish Street work

Further delay at Irish Street work

6 November 2019

WORK to resurface Irish Street in Downpatrick following the completion of a £700,000 public realm scheme has been further delayed.

It was revealed in September that roads officials had indicated that concerns about the state of derelict buildings close to the town’s former police base had been addressed, paving the way for resurfacing work to start.

However, it has emerged this week that those concerns remain in place and the resurfacing scheme has been put on hold. 

Indications that resurfacing work would not proceed emerged several weeks ago when new parking bays and road markings were marked out by contractors in Irish Street.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Infrastructure confirmed yesterday that the organisation engaged a structural engineer to confirm if resurfacing works on Irish Street could be safely completed using heavy equipment in the vicinity of the derelict buildings. 

“The findings of this report have now been shared with the local council’s Building Control Department for consideration,” she continued.

“As this is a matter of public safety, the Department is unable to carry out resurfacing work on Irish Street until the matter is resolved.”

Work on the regeneration project in Irish Street was due to be completed by March, but it was the end of June before contractors finally moved off site, with traders in the area expressing anger about the impact the delayed scheme was having on business.

The delay also had a knock-on effect on traffic congestion in other parts of the town as a result of the temporary one-way traffic system in Irish Street.

Managed by the Departments for Infrastructure and Communities and Newry Mourne and Down Council, the public realm scheme resulted in the provision of new granite paving, street lighting and street furniture.

The delay in completing the public realm work within the anticipated three-month timeframe was blamed on a number of factors, described as “unforeseen works issues” that resulted in the loss of construction time and delays in delivering the scheme. 

Issues which arose included the identification of asbestos piping along both sides of Irish Street which resulted in the works contract being put on hold for eight weeks. 

In addition, the foundations of the old blast wall at the former PSNI base posed construction issues for contractors.

Downpatrick area councillor Dermot Curran hopes that the concerns which have been raised by roads officials can be addressed to allow Irish Street to be resurfaced to complete the public realm scheme.

He hopes that the issues can be resolved ahead of work starting on a £100,000 scheme to help revitalise shop fronts at Irish Street which will be funded by the Department for Communities and Newry, Mourne and Down Council to help business owners improve the fronts of their respective properties. 

A working group to steer the project forward has been formed.