Ritchie says plan must be followed

Ritchie says plan must be followed

17 May 2017

THE ingredients of the masterplan must not be torn apart by Newry, Mourne and Down Council, outgoing South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said this week.

Miss Ritchie, who was the Stormont Minister who initiated the masterplan, said the plan was a concept and framework for the future economic, environmental and social development of the town.  

“I hope that in the case of Downpatrick there will not now be any withdrawal from that perspective by the new Council, or that there will be no tearing apart of the vital ingredients of that masterplan, and that all shoulders will be put to the wheel to ensure the full implementation of the plan,” she said. 

“If any refreshing or updating of the plan for Downpatrick in terms of infrastructure development is required, then that should happen as well considering that the new leisure centre is under construction, the new police station is developed on the Downshire site and the centre for public administration is well underway at the same location.  

“Running alongside this is the need to ensure that we can capitalise on our unique association with St Patrick and early Christian heritage. Tourism is vital to our local economy and has to be acknowledged.”

Miss Ritchie said the masterplan represents a shared vision for the future of the town that aims to guide development and investment decisions by the public, private and voluntary sectors to maximise the regeneration benefits for the town.  

“The masterplan contains a vision that seeks to respect and capitalise upon Downpatrick’s rich Patrician and built heritage, whilst ensuring that appropriate new development can take place to stabilise and enhance the economic sustainability of the town and make it better equipped to compete with other urban areas,” she continued.

Miss Ritchie called for the re-establishment of the masterplan implementation group and said she will be making direct representations to the council, the head of the Civil Service, the Permanent Secretary in the Department of Communities and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to ensure the full implementation of the Masterplan for Downpatrick.   

“There must be no lost opportunities for the continued economic revitalisation of our historic town,” she added. 

“There must be no excoriation of the hopes and aspirations of that masterplan for Downpatrick which needs implementation for the economic and social well being of all our citizens.”