Concerns of Newry regeneration plans 'Zoomed' into focus

Peter Bayne

Reporter:

Peter Bayne

Email:

peter.bayne@newrydemocrat.com

Wednesday 21 April 2021 7:08

By Donal McMahon

NEWRY City Centre Regeneration plans have come under sharp scrutiny in a pressure group hosted online ‘Zoom’ session tackling major issues and concerns with the proposed £20m investment.

The city, is seen as a strategic gateway between Belfast and Dublin and a key investment location that can lead to economic growth and opportunities for the entire district.

However, the major development blueprints have caused much havoc with the Cathedral Parish in concerns of its potential loss of parking to its 100k plus visitors each year as well as wide spread frustration by the public over failure to implement a city centre park at Albert Basin.

The successful online conference with councillors, business people and members of the general public, sharply grew in numbers on Wednesday last, even after deadline for registration as word escalated across the city on what could be the first of many opportunities to tackle the decision makers on the regeneration proposals.

Newry 2020 chairperson, Brian Cleland told the Democrat that the regeneration initiative had generated a dynamo for future face to face debates on the multi-million-pound structural changes about to be made to the city.

“We wanted to host this event because we knew that people had a lot of questions about the Regeneration Programme that needed to be answered,” explained Mr Cleland.

“We felt that an open public meeting with councillors, who are the final decision-makers in this process, would be the right forum for those questions.

“We had no idea how well it would work beforehand, but it turned out to be a huge success. We had over 110 people registered, and we heard from a wide range of passionate and well-informed speakers on the night.

“We're extremely grateful to the elected representatives for making themselves available to answer questions, and to our chair, Kevin McAllister, who did a brilliant job of keeping things on track,” he added.

The success of the Zoom platform hosted by Newry 2020 has given rise to more future online events and a possible political hustings in the offing as we head towards the ballot boxes in May 2022.

“One of the things that came out of it was the obvious appetite for more civic events like this.

“People are extremely passionate about making our city better for everyone, and they've got some brilliant ideas about how we can do that.

“Lots of people have asked us when the next event will be and we want to keep the momentum going, so watch this space,” said the pressure group chairperson.

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