23/07/2010

Attwood Backs Downpatrick Masterplan

Downpatrick is to enjoy a major rejuvenation after the launch this week of a masterplan for the the historic town's centre.

The masterplan aims to make Downpatrick an even more attractive destination for local people and visitors by reducing traffic congestion, improving the retail offering and opening up the Quoile river.

The masterplan provides guidance for decision making on the promotion, implementation and timing of regeneration initiatives in the town centre.

Social Development Minister Alex Attwood who visited the town said: "Downpatrick is a historic town with a rich heritage and it is internationally renowned as a special visitor destination.

"The Downpatrick masterplan shows how the town centre will be rejuvenated as an energetic, vibrant and forward thinking destination for both local residents and visitors alike.

"Pound for pound across government funding urban regeneration makes sense, helps business, creates footfall and builds jobs. In the forthcoming budget negotiations it is essential that the Executive hears loud and clear this message.

"Downpatrick and all other towns with plans for the future can help convey that message and convince the Executive how best to spend its Budget," he said.

The main proposals in the masterplan include:
  • a major new retail development in the Grove area to create a first class shopping environment in the heart of Downpatrick;
  • new people friendly streets to improve linkage throughout the town;
  • continued support for public realm improvements and development opportunity sites;
  • a Quoile River Country Park. This will introduce a network of walking and cycling links between key destinations such as the Mound of Down and Inch Abbey; and
  • a range of proposals to reduce traffic congestion to make the town centre more accessible.
Minister Attwood continued: "The vision for Downpatrick is that it continues as a distinctive market town and destination that people will choose to visit. Achieving the vision will be challenging however if all those with an interest in Downpatrick work together I am confident that the action plan contained in the report will be achieved."

Chairman of Down District Council, Eamon O'Neill commented: "Down District Council is pleased to have had the opportunity of working with DSD to produce this innovative Masterplan for the future development of our County town.

"I am confident that these exciting initiatives outlined in the report will create an enhanced commercial and economic future for Downpatrick into this new century. I hope that everyone can get behind the report to ensure that this can be achieved sooner rather than later."

Minister Attwood went on an escorted walking tour of the town centre to see some of the areas that have been identified in the masterplan for potential regeneration.

(GK/KMcA)

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