Progress continues with new village plan for Newtownhamilton

Thursday, 20 July 2017

PLANS to improve Newtownhamilton have taken a step forward after a month-long public consultation was recently completed.

The Village Plan, which is in its first phase, aims to improve infrastructure, public services, lessen traffic congestion as well as enhance amenties.

An inital plan was launched in 2012, however, it was later deemed to be "outdated" and was subsequently replaced by this current project.

Slieve Gullion Sinn Fin Councillor Barra Muiri, who hails from Newtownhamilton, said that over the years the area has missed out on investment, much to the disappointment of residents.

"Frustration is the word that I'd use," said Councillor Muiri. "I'm born and bred in Newtownhamilton and you only have to drive through it, to see that there has been marked under investment.

"Like other villages it has a turbulent past due to the Troubles. With the Village Plan the aim is to improve economic investment, to put Newtownhamilton front and centre." Key to that, he continued, is to improve the streetscaping of the area, in particular, Newry Street, The Square and Dundalk Street. "There's red-brick paving in the Square that was paved over following the bomb in 1998. Part of the road has caved in, so resurfacing is needed.

"I want to work with the PCSP to have the bollards taken away from outside of the police station, that would enable two-way traffic, opening the area up. What we're talking about here is basic infrastructure and the legacy issue has been the police station, which dwarfs all the other buildings in the town, so it would be good to see it scaled back.

" A lot of people would say that Newtownhamlton is too narrow, but I want to see that turned into a positive; that's a place with charm." He continued, "I've pressed for enhanced residential parking only on Dundalk Street to ease congestion which has been a growing problem for traffic in the town. I have also taken the opportunity to lobby for funding for an all-purpose pitch and a new playpark adjacent to the local GAA grounds, which would create a leisure hub and significantly enhance facilities for young people throughout the community." Councillor Muiri added that the plan offered "significant economic and social potiential" fo r Newtownhamilton, and commended residents and traders for participating in the month-long consultation and "pressing issues on the Village Plan agenda for investment, including public services, local infrastructure, and traffic congestion".

"In my own engagement with residents and local businesses, a consensus has emerged about the need for the council's Village Plan to address long-standing issues of traffic congestion and scarcity of suitable parking," he said.

The information gleaned from the process will then be collated and considered by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, and then sent back to consultees, added the councillor. "Everybody will have the chance to look at it again, but it's still not too late for other additions," he explained.

After that stage, Barra explained, it will be "up to myself, local MLAs and our MP to lobby and to fight to put Newtownhamilton front and centre".

"I urge the council to seriously consider the needs of the community in Newtownhamilton," he added, "and invest in the projects consistently raised by myself and local residents in the recent consultation."


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