A Progress Update to four Masterplans covering the Newry, Mourne and Down region was discussed by Councillors at Monday nights meeting of the Enterprise, Regeneration and Tourism Committee.

The Masterplans are documents that detail actions the council want to focus on in coming years and include, the Newry City Masterplan, Ballynahinch Masterplan, Downpatrick Masterplan and South East Coast Masterplan. Monday's meeting, 8 March, discussed updates to the documents, which in the case of the Newry one dates back to 2011.

A 2015 Iúr Cinn Fleadh event at Newry Variety Market. The Masterplan proposes making the market more commercially viable and attractive. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
A 2015 Iúr Cinn Fleadh event at Newry Variety Market. The Masterplan proposes making the market more commercially viable and attractive. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

In the report put forward at the meeting by Jonathan McGilly, Assistant Director, Enterprise, Employment & Regeneration the Council recommended that Council agreed the updated content and actions.

Items included in the Newry updates were the Newry City Centre Regeneration Programme - Civic Centre and Theatre Conference Centre, Albert Basin development, Park and Choose facility, City Centre Gateway Car Parks, Lower Hill Street Public Realm, Carlingford Lough Greenway Development, Southern Relief Road, Place Marketing (Create a common Newry City identity), Community Care Hub, Cornmarket (existing health village), Newry Variety Market, Monaghan Street and Upper Edward Street, Abbey Grounds, River clean up and Newry Flood Alleviation Scheme.

In a column "Long term Delivery to 2023" projects mentioned included:

  • a new Civic Centre
  • Theatre and Conference Centre
  • Development of Grade A office accommodation
  • Rationalise car parking
  • Public realm
  • Linking Newry Canal Towpath with Carlingford Lough Greenway
  • Review of signage across city and implement marketing plan
  • Support and develop Newry Variety Market to become more commercially viable and attractive.
  • Whiskey Distillery and Visitor Centre (private sector)

Masterplan within a Masterplan?

Cllr Gary Stokes.

Regarding the Albert Basin Development, under the ''Long term delivery to 2023' column it stated "Develop and implement an Albert Basin Masterplan which will be delivered on a phased approach." which caused Newry City Councillor, Cllr Gary Stokes to suggest that the wording was ambiguous and sounded like the document was talking about producing a Masterplan instead of a Park.

A suggested routing through Newry City linking the Newry Canal towpath and Carlingford Lough Greenway. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
A suggested linkage routing through Newry City to link the Newry Canal towpath and Carlingford Lough Greenway between Newry Canal and the Clanrye River. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

"The wording in it Chair, it talks about under the column, long term delivery it's talking about a Masterplan in relation to the park. If you're reading that, a little bit ambiguous, you could think that our long term aim is to formulate a Masterplan when it's not, so I was just proposing that we quite simply to avoid any ambiguity Chair under that column replace the wording with 15 Acre Park in Albert Basin"  said Cllr Stokes.

Abbey Park

A proposal for the update to remove the Abbey Grounds land from the update was also queried by Cllr Stokes who thought it should be kept in the plan, with further discussion to take place. "I've been contacted recently in relation to Abbey Park by local residents. There's a proposal there to take it off the Masterplan. I'm simply making a proposal tonight. Can we take that one back to Newry DEA Councillors for further discussion. Local residents have raised the matter, and if they have raised it with me, I'm sure they have raised it with other Councillors too. I'm not sure we have really given that proper thought as a Council and looked at options." said Cllr Stokes who added "We have two things happening there obviously the Health Hub, is there an opportunity to integrate that site into the Health Hub and also a major residential development Chair, are there opportunities to marry that in there. My colleague Michael Savage has also said. We are doing trails at Daisy Hill at the moment . Is this another potential site. I don't know. I don't think we have given it proper consideration and under that one Chair I would propose that we don't take it away from the Masterplan at the moment but send it back to the Newry DEA for further discussion."

Cllr Stokes proposals along with  proposal from Councillors on other Masterplans were agreed and the Masterplan Updates were approved with these changes. As usual everything is subject to ratification at the full Council meeting in April.

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