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Future Regeneration of Armagh City to be set out in MasterplanA VISION of what the Cathedral City will look like in decades to come is on its way.
Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie today visited Armagh to hear about future regeneration plans for the city.
Armagh City and District Council has teamed up with the Department for Social Development (DSD) to put together a Masterplan that will outline a framework for future development in the city.
The plan is due to be finalised by late autumn and it is hoped it will act as a catalyst for development, underlining Armagh’s potential to become a truly sustainable small city in the next five to 10 years, with a vibrant local economy, a well preserved and historic environment and a strong community sector.
Margaret Ritchie, DSD Minister, said: “Armagh is a prospering city in the heartland of Northern Ireland, boasting a unique history and acting as a focus for public administration. However research in the area shows that after decades of under investment it is time to embark on a concerted effort to boost Armagh’s physical environment, commercial and retail offering for local people and visitors alike.
The Minister said: “My Department is funding the development of a masterplan that will include investment in physical regeneration, transport and opportunities for the private sector. It will help develop regeneration schemes, underlining Armagh’s potential to become a truly sustainable small city.”
A number of specific issues will be taken into account during the Masterplanning process, lack of investment in regional roads and public transport networks; congestion; car parking; derelict buildings; how to better integrate the City and its environment, and opportunities for investment in niche retail.
The positive impact of the on-going City Centre Regeneration scheme, which includes a transformation of 11 streets, and the sale and redevelopment of the Gaol will also be considered.
Charles Rollston, Mayor of Armagh, said: “It is our hope that this ambitious Masterplan will help us develop an Armagh that fulfils its role as a strong ‘hub’ for sustainable employment, services, and a range of cultural and leisure amenities for the entire community in future years to come.
“This is a long-term vision and the Masterplan will advise on the nature, scale and timing of work to restructure and redevelop the city centre, identifying key sites and the most appropriate type of development. The plan will also highlight where it would be necessary to acquire land and property.
“In addition to this it will also give direction on transportation, access and parking, and all this will be collated to form a time bound action plan spanning the short, medium and longer term goals, setting out the roles of the Department, other public and private sector organisations.”
As the Government Department with the statutory powers required to deliver regeneration plans of this type, DSD’s assistance has been sought by Armagh City and District Council with the preparation of the Masterplan.
The development of the plan will require consultation with public sector organisations and private sector interests, as well as community groups and residents who live in the City Centre and adjacent neighbourhoods. The Minister met members of the Armagh City Advisory Group who will oversee the development of the Masterplan. The group is made up of public and private sector representatives who have the common goal of regenerating Armagh City.
While DSD has responsibility for urban regeneration, it works closely with various partner organisations, such as DRD Roads Service, DOE Planning Service and Environment and Heritage Service, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Armagh City and District Council.
During her visit, the Minister also met members from the Armagh City and District Council, who briefed her on the progress made on the future development of the City Gaol. Furthermore, she met with representatives from SIAC Construction NI Ltd, the contractors delivering the city centre public realm scheme.
The Minister said: “In March, I welcomed the £5.7 million investment in the Armagh city public realm scheme. The scheme is now a reality with work commenced on the ground. It will provide a major facelift to a number of city centre streets and help ease congestion by reducing through traffic and improving provision for parking and deliveries.”
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