Towns could be in line for public realm scheme boost

Towns could be in line for public realm scheme boost

13 January 2021

SAINTFIELD, Killyleagh and Castlewellan could be in line for ambitious new public realm and environmental improvement schemes.

Newry, Mourne and Down Council is seeking financial support from the Department for Communities to carry out work in each of the locations which could cost several million pounds.

Traditionally, the government department provides cash to upgrade towns which have a population in excess of 5,000 people, but local authority officials believe that there may be a future opportunity to finance schemes in towns where the population is greater than 2,500.

Members of the local authority’s Enterprise, Regeneration and Tourism Committee were told on Monday 

that council officials plan to ask the government department to include the local areas in a capital works forward plan.

Councillors were told that in order to inform the capital works forward plan, the council commissioned research in each of the areas, asking people for their views and coming up with short, medium and long term proposals.

Reports on the future vision for each area were tabled at Monday’s committee meeting and in addition to detailing what work could take place, they focus on the negative impact of doing nothing.

Moving forward, council officials have confirmed that they are to work with their Department for Communities colleagues on a capital works programme for each area.

In Killyleagh, suggested improvements include enhancements and improvements to the seafront between Seaview and Cuan Beach, new lighting between Shore Street and Seaview and a new slipway at Seaside Road.

Other suggestions include improving the Sir Hans Sloane memorial space and Frederick Street car park and replacing a current public toilet block at the top of High Street in front of Killyleagh Castle,

Elsewhere, repainting the town’s library is suggested, alongside utilising the top floor of the building for community use, addressing derelict buildings and the introduction of a so-called shopfronts scheme.

The recent consultation highlighted the need for improved welcome and directional signage, new pavings and footpaths and support for the Hans Sloane Centre.

Similarly in Saintfield there is a focus on upgrading shop fronts alongside new paving and footpaths, resurfacing a section of Main Street, addressing the derelict buildings issue and the provision of a pelican crossing between High Street and the town’s new community centre.

Additional open spaces are also highlighted with calls for the main car park at Downpatrick Street to be upgraded, alongside the provision of additional spaces. 

The upgrade of public toilets at the New Line is also highlighted, alongside their potential relocation and steps to tackle a flooding issue between the Fair Green and Main Street.

Other suggestions include the need for a “spend local campaign” which could include the development of a mobile app, allowing shoppers to upload a personal spending balance which could attract discounts when purchases are made in the town.

In Castlewellan, issues highlighted include better use of the space around the town’s market House at Upper Square, the provision of additional litter bins, better use of vacant and derelict space, enhanced car parking and traffic management and the town’s general landscape with flower beds and new trees, particularly at the Lower Square area.

Improving signage to direct people to the peace maze at Castlewellan Forest Park and other buildings of interest is suggested.