£2million Ballynahinch Public Realm Scheme Announced by McCausland
SOCIAL Development Minister Nelson McCausland has announced the start of a £2million Public Realm improvement scheme in Ballynahinch.
The scheme will see the upgrading of footpaths, street furniture, planting and lighting throughout the town. The visual appearance of the town will also be improved by the burying of telephone cables and power lines.
Work on the scheme will be undertaken by TAL contractors and has commenced this week.
Minister McCausland said: “This scheme will help to deliver improvements which will inject vibrancy into the heart of Ballynahinch town centre.
“With the current economic downturn this work will also provide much needed employment for the local construction industry. When completed, the scheme has the potential to act as a catalyst to reinvigorate the town and improve trading conditions.”
Councillor Maria McCarthy, Chairperson of Down District Council, also commented and said: “On behalf of Down District Council I am delighted that work is commencing on the Ballynahinch Public Realm project. The completed scheme will greatly enhance the appearance of our market town and will contribute to economic growth.
“I hope that the confidence shown by the Department for Social Development and Down District Council in Ballynahinch will encourage further business investment in the town. I welcome the funding from the Northern Ireland Executive and look forward to the completion of the scheme.”
Councillor Anne McAleenan, Chairperson of the Ballynahinch Public Realm Working Group, said: “This is great news fro Ballynahich, We have been working at this project for 18 months now and I am just delighted to see it now going forward.
“It may possible cause a bit of disruption in the town for a short period but ultimately it will be a huge boost to Ballynahinch. WE have also started into our Ballynahinch Masterplan too and with the Streetscape Ballynahinch will be transformed. These intitiatives will open up business opportunities for the business sector in Ballynahinch and the market town will once again start to prosper.
“I expect all the works for the Streetscape to be completed by April 2014 if all goes according to plan. It will open up the centre of Ballynahinch and make it more accessible for shopping and trade. We may experience a little traffic disruption nut it will all be worth it in the end.
“We have engaged with the public utilities such as BT, NI Water who have been helpful including the Roads Service and at this time feel happy that all the major road works are completed.”
Ballynahinch Chamber of Commerce President Mark Murnin also was delighted at the progress of the Streetscape scheme and said: “The Chamber welcomes Minister McCausland’s announcement. I have been heavily involved from the beginning along with Chamber Secretary Jonathan Quinn. This initiative will bring more prosperity to Ballynahinch and revitalise the town which has been ailing in recent years.
“It will halt the trend of shop closures and maybe even attract new shops to open and draw in much needed inward investment.
“We are also involved in working on the Ballynahinch Masterplan which is a strategy for the whole of the town. There will be a consultation process starting soon and this will create the way forward involving all of the citizens young and not so young to shape their town for the the years ahead.”
Jim Shannon, MP for Strangford, has welcomed the £2 Million commitment to Ballynahinch Regeneration and added: “This is excellent news as the Ballynahinch Chamber of Trade and local people needed help to regenerate the town. Some buildings are lying vacant and a better lay-out for the town is really needed.
“We held a meeting last year with Nelson McCausland DSD Minister and we pushed for funding to help with regeneration. The Minister has stepped up to the mark and a £1.7 million regeneration plan has been agreed with Down District Council bringing the amount up to £2 million and soon the town will be the better for it and along with Down Council, the uplift and refurbishment of Ballynahinch will soon take place.
Also commenting on the launch, Councillor Garth Craig said: “We are all glad to see finally this work starting in Ballynahinch. It will have a very positive impact and certainly help our traders and make Ballynahinch a pleasant market town to shop in.
“I would still maintain that there is a need for another major store in the town centre. This would create more footfall and boost trading generally.
“Having been involved in this I can say that the people of Ballynahinch will be impressed with the final outcome of the Streetscape. It will really set the town off.”
The Northern Ireland Executive through the Department for Social Development is providing nearly £1.7million toward the scheme, with Down District Council securing the remainder.