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A reader has contacted us and believes that the City has lost too much of its heritage over the years and we haven't really learnt from that.

Sean Hollywood Arts Centre. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
Sean Hollywood Arts Centre, Bank Parade, Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

Michael believes that it is a real shame that plans for Newry's new Theatre and Conference centre will result in the demolition of the Sean Hollywood Arts Centre. He also believes we are running the risk of making Newry "devoid of personality and history"

"That part of Newry is so historic and beautiful due to the architecture and the unusual layout of the streets and the building over the river. The Arts Centre and the town hall as well as the surrounding architecture create a really nice street scape which I don’t think should be tampered with but progress is progress. I just feel that it needs a voice to highlight this even if its destruction is guaranteed.

"Even though it isn’t Original the fact that the facade is an exact copy of a building that predates the town hall, in my mind at least, gives it a right and validation to stay. The site behind the centre is quite big and a good site for some kind of building but I feel that the proposal to build an outdoor amphitheater is pointless and whilst it may look good, in reality it won’t be used all that much mainly down to our weather. "

Michael believes the civic centre is a good idea but thinks there are so many other things that need done. "There are so many other potential projects that need to be completed. A connected greenway, a park and the reuse of the amazing merchant houses and building at the bottom of Courtney Hill and the old convent on High Street which are perfect sites to develop housing etc using historic buildings which satisfies the wider planning agenda and preserves history.

Michael continued "Newry has lost and is losing so much of its history over the years ie the removal of North Street and the old Our Lady’s building and this is continuing. In terms of climate goals, most studies I have read indicate that demolition is the wrong approach due to the release of dust and chemicals etc. Only last month the buildings on Bridge Street were destroyed to create a new entrance into the Buttercrane. Those buildings were solid and should have developed into housing.

Properties in Bridge Street, Newry that were demolished earlier this year. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
Properties in Bridge Street, Newry that were demolished in recent times. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

"There’s only so much of this that Newry can take before it is modernised and sanitised so that it’s just like every other town and city in the UK that is devoid of personality and history."

Michael doesn't think that a new arts centre will boost arts in Newry or produce more artists. "The council should be more concerned with creating more housing in the town centre above shops on Hill Street etc, cheaper rents and rates to encourage arts and hospitality and the nighttime economy. Stop developers buying places and letting them rot and implement compulsory purchase orders and fines. Everything that gets proposed and developed is developer led; profit margins are the only winners."

Michael has the original brochure for the new arts centre in 1982. Michael concludes  "It contains a quote from a member of the historic society from 1957/8 which warns that’s Newry has lost too much heritage and nothing really has been learned from this."

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