Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

New plan for Queen's Parade revealed

Lesley HOUSTON

cteditorial@thect.co.uk

DETAILS of a pioneering temporary project to fill the void left by the lack of progress on Bangor's multi-million pound seafront development have been revealed.

The plans, including artists' pods - a Northern Ireland first; a light installation and a community garden, are intended to be kept under wraps until the Department of Social Development's anticipated announcement on Thursday.

However, a North Down councillor has given an outline of the plans which were contained in a report to the council's Corporate Committee, compiled by officials within its Tourism Department, stating he was unhappy with the "secrecy" surrounding the plans.

Austen Lennon said: "I'm in favour of the idea but not the way they are doing it, not with the secrecy," he said.

The Independent councillor revealed how the report details plans for the "Temporary Revitalisation Project" which would include 24 pods to enable artists to showcase their work, understood to be the first project of its kind in Northern Ireland.

The pods would house 24 artists for 24 months, 12 artists taking their turn each year, and would enable them to "showcase" their work and "engage with the public".

A 24-hour light installation is also part of the plans which would also see the Queen's Parade space "become home to a community garden" which is said to be a first for a town centre in Northern Ireland, according to the report.

Exact details of what type of garden will be established remain unclear, Mr Lennon said.

Speaking to the Community Telegraph, he said: "I have not seen a better project. There have been other suggestions, like markets but there would be concerns they would take away from the other businesses in the town centre.

"Markets would also be very transient by nature. People often come in and get what they need and then leave without visiting the town shops."

He continued that if such an option were adopted, "the council would then be obliged to put on events regularly and that would cost a lot of money".

As it stands, the project outlined in the report would be created at a cost of -pound;316,000, and would be funded by the Department of Social Development to the tune of -pound;250,000, with the council picking up the remaining -pound;66,000.

Mr Lennon said the council's share was coming "from other budgets" and had not been allocated previously.

The temporary measure begs the question of impatient Bangor residents over just how long it will be before the much-lauded multi-million pound development which was to inhabit Queen's Parade, including a hotel and entertainment facilities is realised.

That development, outlined a few years ago by Karl Greenfarm, has been delayed repeatedly, with the most recent setback revealed earlier this summer linked to the company's need to purchase nearly a dozen properties along the seafront area.

Residents are so exasperated by the lack of progress that the new Facebook page Broken Bangor, set up to " . . . vent about the way Bangor is being run into the ground" is rapidly gathering members with Queen's Parade the top topic.

Mr Lennon fears that it could be "up to ten years" before it ever gets off the ground.

At the time of going to press the DSD made no comment on the issue, while no one was available for comment from Karl Greenfarm.

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