06/07/2010

Atwood Unveils Newtownards Masterplan

NI Social Development Minister, Alex Attwood has visited Newtownards to launch a masterplan for the town centre.

The purpose of the masterplan is to provide strategic guidance for the regeneration of Newtownards town centre. It also aims to protect the existing physical, social and economic capital of the town making Newtownards an even more attractive place to live, work and visit. The masterplan provides the basis and justification for decision making on the promotion, implementation and timing of urban regeneration initiatives in the town centre.

Minister Attwood said: "Newtownards is a vibrant town and has a first-rate reputation for providing high quality independent retailing for local people and visitors. This masterplan seeks to ensure that the viability and vitality of the town centre shopping environment is sustained and enhanced in a planned way. It will ensure that Newtownards remains an accessible attractive town centre that is a good place for people to spend time."

The vision for Newtownards, which is set out in the masterplan, highlights the importance of building on the town’s strengths to diversify and strengthen the economy of the town. Some of the key proposals include creating a new purpose built development along High Street and Court Street that will provide modern shop units for the local independent retailers in this area; redesigning Conway Square to create a new focal/meeting point that can be better used for events, festivals as well as the local market and investing in the public realm in the main shopping areas of High Street/ Mill Street and Regent Street/Frances Street as well as the second retail area along South Street.

Each of these streets radiates from the central civic space at Conway Square.

Minister Attwood continued: "The vision for the town is that Newtownards continues to be a vibrant and distinctive market town that people will choose to visit. This vision will be achieved if all those with an interest in Newtownards work together to implement the action plan contained in the report."

Mayor of Ards, Councillor David Smyth highlighted his support for the masterplan saying: "The significance of this masterplan cannot be underestimated; it will facilitate the regeneration work within the town centre, maximising development opportunities and creating a more vibrant town centre. We look forward now to moving the proposals forward in conjunction with our local businesses and development partners."

Richard Heasley, Scott Wilson’s Consultants, said: "Newtownards' high quality townscape, public space at Conway square and strong independent retailing, ensured that the masterplan could be built on some very strong foundations which are already in place. The plan has been developed to enhance the town's strengths, building on the assets which make Newtownards such a successful and marketable town, now and into the future."

The masterplan was finalised following a period of public consultation on the draft vision and proposals earlier in the year.

(NS)


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