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The Albert Basin Park Project have written an Open Letter to the People of Newry, Mourne and Down District, The project is part of Newry 2020's campaign for a city park in Newry and they are asking the council at their meeting tomorrow night to pledge £1.5 Million to fund a full project team to proceed with the park which was unamiously voted for in 2017 but very little progress has been made since on the project.

An aerial view of what the new park at the Albert Basin could look like.
An aerial view of what the new park at the Albert Basin could look like.

Open Letter

On Monday the 2nd November Newry Mourne Down District Council will vote on approving a business case that will put them on track to committing at least £30M of ratepayer money towards new City Regeneration Projects for Newry City.

You may be surprised to learn that the Albert Basin Park Project, which the citizens of Newry City and our Council have stated is their “top priority”, is not included within these City Regeneration Projects but HALF OF YOUR £30M is committed towards a New Council Office Building and providing additional Rentable Office Space in Newry City Centre. The New Council Office Building and additional Rentable Office Space have had no public consultation or decades-long community campaign unlike the Albert Basin Park Project.

If this pandemic has taught us anything it is the value of green space from a physical and mental health perspective. It has also forever altered demand for office space through video conferencing, VPNs and remote working. Businesses all over the world are cancelling new office projects and hurrying to sell the office space they currently have.

Newry City already has Council Offices however it doesn’t have a City Park. In fact Newry City is the only city in Ireland that doesn’t have a City Park.

Monday’s vote will be on the largest financial commitment our council will make during this term (2019-2023) at £30M of rate payers money being pledged towards it, with the potential to add an extra 30-40% to existing rates in the midst of a global pandemic.

The Albert Basin Park Project is Newry City’s true Regeneration Project. It already has unanimous council support, public and private sector buy-in and most importantly costs 1/10* of what the council are pledging to spend on Monday night.

We propose a mad idea.

Why don’t we save the £15M for a New Council Office Building and Rentable Office Space and instead pledge £1.5 million to fund a full project team to proceed with the Albert Basin Park Project and get it built ASAP?

We understand that our council finds it hard to change course when they have staked so much time, money (over £500,000) and effort into getting the New Council Office Building Project to this stage but frankly it is the wrong investment at the wrong moment. We need green space before we need office space.

As the great economist John Maynard Keynes once said, “When the facts change, I change my mind”. We urge our councillors voting this Monday to do the same. Vote for Green Space before Office Space.

Vote NO to approving the business case on constructing the multi-million pound New Council Offices for Newry City.

-The Albert Basin Park Project

*The Albert Basin Project current concept plans have been costed by professionals at between £10-15 Million depending on finishes. Furthermore, our studies have shown that comparable projects across N.I. have received 80-90% external funding, minimising the burden on local ratepayers.

Albert Basin Park Project

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