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I've been catching up on the forum today for the first time in a while. One thing that caught my attention was the amount of Belfast threads compared to other towns and cities. Now that isn't surprising as it's a major city in the UK and Ireland, and I'm not complaining that there is too much investment there rather than anywhere else. I think Belfast should receive loads of investment, but I also think other areas need it too, towns south of Belfast are in really poor states.

So where would you like to see investment? That could include new builds, upgrades for the transport infrastructure, environmental upgrades etc.

For me, I would like to see my local town Newry get some money pumped in to it. I'm sure those in nearby towns and in the south west would disagree as there seems to be this idea amongst some that Newry gets enough, but it really doesn't when you look at it's potential. The Albert Basin sits completely empty and is right in the city centre. These plans were binned which is shocking:

http://www.parkergreen.com/pages/index.asp?title=Parker_Green_Albert_Basin_Proposal

Many streets in Newry look so poor as well. There are loads of empty, run down buildings which could be used if the owners (such as the McKnights) sold them. The Council closed a few car parks to sell for office space and no one has bought them to build, so they lie empty. The North Street flats were knocked down creating this huge open area again right in the middle of the town. Nothing has been done there at all in the years since. The town lacks good things such as good public sports facilities. It's been crying out for a new sports centre and swimming pool for years and given how popular sport and fitness is here, it is badly needed.

The town sits in a brilliant location between Dublin and Belfast, and also sits close to another big Irish settlement in Dundalk.

It was good to see the likes of the new motor way and train station getting built recently, and fantastic to hear about the Quays expansion and Greenbank regeneration if they ever get started, but it's not enough given the state of the rest of the town.

So, rant over, what about your local area? What would you like to see done?
 

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I think Newry is the town with the most wasted potential in NI. It's right on the Belfast-Dublin transport corridor, has a young population, has a potentially great canal-front town centre and is ideally placed to capitalise on the Mourne Mountains tourist trade.

However, the town centre is textbook case of what happens when planners and town councils lose the plot. It's a disaster zone; nothing syncs together, vacant car parks everywhere. The worst bit is the loading bays and storage yard security walls that face the canal; whoever approved those developments deserved to lose their jobs.

The Albert Basin plan looked fantastic. A Daniel Libeskind design would have firmly put Newry on the map. Does anyone know why that proposal was declined? Snubbing Daniel Libeskind isn't something you do if you want to be taken seriously as a municipality. :bash: That really was a once in a generation opportunity.

I would love to see the Fermanagh lakes opened up to more sustainable tourism. I visited there recently for the first time in more than a decade, and I couldn't believe how much tourist infrastructure was already in place. I was very impressed, but it needs a lot more promotion. My big concern is that if gas fracking goes ahead the Fermanagh tourist industry is [email protected]

Finally, I think all other major development should be limited to the Belfast metropolitan area, Derry and Newry. The population and services are already too widely dispersed without more developments in small towns in the middle of nowhere. This dispersal is going to cost us in years to come.
 

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A few years ago a civilian took it upon himself to write a report on how to open several new train lines in Northern Ireland and Sligo. One of the more likely proposals he came up with was having the trains branching off the main line just north of Newry station, instead they would go into Newry town centre. That was where the trains went several decades ago and would be much more useful than the current station which is in the countryside. And with a town centre station it would be more viable to have the Portadown trains extended to Newry every half hour. Newry's mainline station could be used for the Enterprise only.
 

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from BBC.


£4m boost for Ballymena town centre


Ballymena town centre is to benefit from a £4m regeneration plan.

Social development minister Nelson McCausland described the proposal as "a very positive move forward."

"Ultimately what we want is to provide a completely new look and feel to the whole of the town centre, putting people first, which is what really matters," he said.

The plan involves creating a focal point and public space at Broadway in the County Antrim town.

The main features incorporated in the scheme for the area are:

The creation of a main focal point for the town centre and public space at Broadway.
The use of high quality materials such as Caithness stone.
Use of bespoke street lighting, street furniture and signage.
Promoting a shared space so that people are given priority over traffic.
The Department for Social Development will provide funding of £2.7m and Ballymena Borough Council will pay £1.3m.

Mayor of Ballymena P J McEvoy said: "This announcement is a great Christmas present to Ballymena. We, in council, set out two years ago to create an ambitious and ground-breaking Public Realm Strategy, which put people first.

"We hope, through energetic management and thoughtful design, the town centre streets and spaces will come alive with people.

"They will be welcomed to the town centre, not only to shop and to work, but to relax, to play, to learn and to enjoy."
 

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Following on from that,

Department to buy Queen's Parade site in Bangor town centre

The Department for Social Development (DSD) has agreed to buy a multi-million pound development earmarked for Bangor.

Plans to build a hotel, convention centre, homes and offices on the Queen's Parade site have been in the pipeline for nearly 15 years.

The DSD has agreed to buy the site off the developer behind the scheme, Karl Greenfarm Properties.

Planning permission and control of plans for the development will now be the responsibility of the department.

Karl Greenfarm owe £17m to their bank.

DSD said it will work in partnership with North Down Borough Council and engage directly with local residents, business owners and others who have shown an interest in the development plans.

Nelson McCausland said: "This is good news for Bangor. I have decided that my department will step in to take direct control of plans for the development of the Queen's Parade area of the town as outlined in the Bangor Town Centre Masterplan (BTCM).

"In time it will help breathe life back into the town centre and restore Bangor's image as a destination town with tourist appeal.

"This is a prime opportunity site which when developed will improve the economic performance of the town centre."

The DSD said the master plan had identified Queen's Parade as the most significant opportunity within Bangor town centre.

It said the redevelopment of this area to create a mixed use site offering a range of new services, offices, homes and retail expansion would create the catalyst for regeneration throughout Bangor.

The master plan was developed following extensive consultation with the private and public sector and is intended to inform the development of the town for the next 15 years.

A spokesperson for Karl Greenfarm Properties Limited said: "We have agreed to sell our land portfolio to the department to allow DSD to develop this area in line with the master plan.

"We believe this is a positive step forward for Bangor and will ensure the implementation of the plans in as timely a manner as possible."

The DSD refused to say how much they had paid for the land but its thought to be a fraction of that figure.

Prices of similar developments have dropped by 90% in the property crash.
 
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