Emma Gallen & Rebecca Petticrew
THIS Saturday, April 27, sees the official launch of Project 24, the art pods which have been adding a splash of colour to the dereliction of Queen's Parade.
Residents can sample pottery making and art and there will be a speciality outdoor market from 11am and live music, dancing and family activities from 1pm with the entertainment extending into the evening.
The art scheme, as well as the complete redevelopment of Queen's Parade, has passed into the hands of the Department of Social Development and Minister Nelson McCausland dropped in to assess progress last week.
"These colourful artist studios, along with the new green space and performance area have transformed a neglected area and I have no doubt this will help to attract people into the town centre," he said.
The six colourful bespoke pods will provide mini studios for local artists. After two years, they will be moved to another location in the town.
The DSD hopes to landscape the area around the pods to create seating and performance space for events and displays, as well as create a community garden where people can grow vegetables and plants.
Mayor of North Down, Councillor Wesley Irvine commented: "It is great to see a derelict site regenerated and this project really brings life to the Queen's Parade area. It opens up the site for the first time in years.
"It is great for the artist community and also creates a valuable shared space for the rest of the community in Bangor."
The DSD's long-term plans for Queen's Parade were revealed at a meeting of North Down Borough Council last week.
Local independent councillor Austen Lennon was at the meeting and welcomed the plans put forward by DSD representative Damian Mulholland.
"The presentation was very positive from my point of view," Mr Lennon said. "The tone of it was that the DSD is going to do something, come hell or high water.
"Their main consideration is not profit but doing what's best for the town," he added.
Mr Lennon said he was "delighted" that a theatre and tourist information centre are "virtually guaranteed" under the new plans, along with more open spaces.
He continued: "It's all very early stages and Damian Mulholland said it all has to come down to a lot of consultation – which I felt was good because in the past I didn't think the consultation was up to standard."
The DSD aims to have the development completed by 2018, a target many, including Mr Lennon, think is ambitious.
"They set a very adventurous timeline which I personally think they'll struggle to meet, but it's the most positive I've felt about it in a long time," Mr Lennon said.