WORK on the new park and share facility at Sheepbridge is expected to be completed within the next two weeks.
The facility will provide 106 new parking spaces and has been designed to cater for the future provision of buses.
The new park and share is located beside the current facility, which provides 63 spaces. However, a number of cars have been left to park on the roadside and on adjacent footpaths because of overflow issues.
The second facility has not been without its issues, having faced strong objection from residents on the Belfast Road, Newry where it is located.
At a Planning Committee meeting of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council earlier this year, residents and councillors made impassioned pleas to planning officers and Department for Infrastructure officials to not go ahead with the new development.
Their objections centred on road safety concerns, environmental issues, residential amenity and the suitability of the site.
At the meeting in February Councillor David Taylor said “the extent of the proposal” was also a concern and he said the “lives of residents will be dramatically changed by this”.
Two residents also attended that meeting and said there had been an accident at the existing park and share as well as highlighting anti-social behaviour and littering issues.
Acknowleding there would be a “significant change in the landscape” the Chief Planning Officer, Anthony McKay said the current site was oversubscribed and said a two-phase development was proposed, which would offer an ‘in-and-out’ system for vehicles entering and leaving at both ends of the new site.
He said it would also provide a facility for buses to stop and drop off and collect passengers.
Despite the concerns raised, the application was given the go-ahead and work began at the beginning of March and was expected to take eight weeks. It is now in the final stages of completion, ahead of its opening in July.
A Department for Infrastructure (DfI) spokesperson said work was underway to provide 106 new park and share spaces.
“This will complement the existing 63 spaces and will cater for those road users who are unable to utilise the existing oversubscribed facilities,” they said.
“We have been engaged with local residents regarding a number of issues which we have endeavoured to address as far as practicable.
“The facility has been constructed to cater initially for park and share activity and it has been developed to accommodate buses for future park and ride.”