Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Proposed new enterprise centre at Kilcooley an 'innovative' idea

Kilcooley residents are keen to see the proposed community hub get the go ahead
The proposed new enterprise centre for the Kilcooley Estate would include shops and offices as well as childcare and community facilities.

Kilcooley residents could have shops, offices, childcare and community facilities on their doorstep if plans for a new enterprise centre are given the green light.

The proposed new community hub hinges on an economic appraisal currently being carried out on behalf of North Down Borough Council.

The appraisal follows several years of community planning and a feasibility study, all of which suggested there was a need and a demand for the centre.

Community development manager for Kilcooley Community Forum, Pastor Mark Gordon, said the centre would herald the "next stage of neighbourhood renewal" for the estate.

"It's an innovative programme," he said. "It will house retail outlets, office space, an exhibition centre and women's centre, as well as providing creche facilities.

"It has a lot of support from the community and it will build on a lot of hard work that has been put into the area. We've already had expressions of interest from local businesses.

"When you look at our current complex, where our offices are and where the retail outlets are, even the housing executive said they're no longer fit for purpose and something new has to be developed."

Concerns have been raised that building such a centre on the outskirts of Bangor will mean fewer people travel into the town centre.

However, Stephen Dunlop, Bangor town centre manager, said he doesn't think the proposal poses a threat.

"The reality is that already, local residents don't need to go to the town centre to shop for basics. There are a plethora of petrol filling stations within a mile that all have mini-supermarkets attached to them and some have hot food carry-outs, off licences and so on attached," he said.

"The facility at Kilcooley will mean residents can walk to a local facility to secure their immediate needs but for a more substantial shop they'll continue with their existing patterns.

"It also means they have an educational and health facility on their doorstep to serve the people. That can only be a good thing.

"The development of such centres is a natural indication of urban growth and it is reassuring that investment is still being made in the broader Bangor area. It will complement the quality town Bangor has become."

Jan Nixey, principal community services officer at North Down Borough Council said the economic appraisal is due to be finalised before the end of this year, and will consider cost and site options, affordability and sustainability, as well as benefits and risks.

If the appraisal is positive, the development will be dependent on "securing the necessary finance and statutory approval," Mrs Nixey added.

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