New civic building information sessions to be held shortly

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

PUBLIC and business information sessions are expected to be held next month on Newry, Mourne and Down District Council's proposal for a new Civic Centre in Newry.

Councillors attending this month's meeting of the Enterprise, Regeneration and Tourism (ERT) committee meeting, held in Monaghan Row, were informed by ERT Director, Marie Ward, that the local authority had been considering two possible locations but had now added a third site to the list.

Members heard that regenerating Hill Street and Monaghan Street is one of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council's primary aims in building a new Civic Centre.

The council's Corporate Plan for 2015-2019 includes the opening of a new Civic Centre, in Newry, with the aim of attracting investment, job creation, regeneration, as well as "transform and modernise the council, providing accessible as well as value for money services".

Ms Ward explained that the new Centre was "not just about creating office space for council staff but also about driving the economic regeneration of the area."

She highlighted that "a vast amount of work" had been done on the project over the past 12 months and that they would like to host public and business information sessions, which would probably be held in November.

The council is also aiming to improve on the current hotel provision, widen the present offer of residential provision which would boost "city centre living", "enhance the user experience" of cafes, restaurants and bars, and develop the evening economy.

Councillors learned that potential sites for the Centre had been identified but that other privately owned sites may be available. A public call for sites would therefore be made, which will be kickstarted by the public and business information sessions.

SDLP Councillor Gary Stokes said that the sites at Monaghan Row and Greenbank were "not the most conducive environment in which to work."

His party colleague, Declan McAteer believed it was important to obtain feedback on what the project would mean to everyone.

"We must have transparency in local government," he said. "There could be exciting opportunities here so it is important how we deliver it."

Deputy Chairperson, Sinn Fein's Willie Clarke pointed out that a new Centre was "more than just about having accomodation for staff."

It would be "a catalyst for regeneration for Newry, incorporating the public and private sector," stated Councillor Clarke, describing it as one of the council's "biggest initiatives, which lends itself into the Park."

The Deputy Chairperson said it was "important to get that message across," and that it was also about creating jobs in the Newry area and also creating a good environment.

Ms Ward said a new Centre would improve "footfall stimulus and create that real city feel" and stressed that they would be going public on the project.

Sinn Fein's Charlie Casey proposed that the public and business information sessions go ahead. Councillor Stokes seconded.


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