Belfast Telegraph

Regeneration plan for town’s centre

by Michael Bashford

Social Development Minister Alex Attwood praised Newtownards as a “first rate town” when he dropped in to launch the new masterplan for the town centre last week.

The purpose of the masterplan “is to provide strategic guidance for the regeneration of Newtownards town centre”.

The Department for Social Development said it also aims to protect “the existing physical, social and economic capital of the town making Newtownards an even more attractive place to live, work and visit”.

“The masterplan provides the basis and justification for decision making on the promotion, implementation and timing of urban regeneration initiatives in the town centre,” a spokesman said.

Speaking during his visit to the town, Mr Attwood said:

“Newtownards is a vibrant town and has a first-rate reputation for providing high quality, independent retailing for local people and visitors.

“This masterplan seeks to ensure that the viability and vitality of the town centre shopping environment is sustained and enhanced in a planned way.

“It will ensure that Newtownards remains an accessible, attractive town centre that is a good place for people to spend time.”

The vision for Newtownards which is set out in the masterplan highlights the importance of building on the town’s strengths to diversify and strengthen the economy of the town. Some of the key proposals include:

Creating a new, purpose built development along High Street and Court Street that will provide modern shop units for the local independent retailers in this area;

Redesigning Conway Square to create a new focal/meeting point that can be better used for events, festivals as well as the local market;

Investing in the public realm in the main shopping areas of High Street/ Mill Street and Regent Street/Frances Street as well as the second retail area along South Street. Each of these streets radiates from the central civic space at Conway Square.

Mayor of Ards, Councillor David Smyth highlighted his support for the masterplan.

“The significance of this masterplan cannot be underestimated,” he commented.

“It will facilitate the regeneration work within the town centre, maximising development opportunities and creating a more vibrant town centre.

“We look forward now to moving the proposals forward in conjunction with our local businesses and development partners.”

The masterplan was finalised following a period of public consultation on the draft vision and proposals earlier in the year.

After the launch event Minister Attwood went on an escorted walking tour of the area.

During the walkabout, he was taken to see some of the areas that have been identified in the masterplan for potential regeneration.

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