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Major public realm scheme to see ‘much needed improvements’ made to ‘Craigavon town centre’

The meeting was told the scheme - for which funding has been secured - is at 'very early stages' and final design will be progressed through public consultation

Funding has been secured for a major public realm scheme for Craigavon.

The confirmation came during a course of a meeting of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s economic committee on Tuesday evening.

Therese Rafferty, head of the regeneration department, confirmed the plans were at “very early stages”.

However, a report to committee revealed that the scheme will be 100 per cent funded by the Department for Communities.

It says it “would enable the provision of much needed improvements to the public realm and wayfinding within the boundary of Craigavon town centre”.

And the report adds: “Officers are currently drafting the application for funding and it is expected that the revitalisation works could include upgrades to public realm and the introduction of wayfinding and signage across the defined town centre.

“This would encourage and enable better navigation for pedestrians and cyclists around central Craigavon.

“The project would also significantly improve the legibility of the town centre and also promote the use of facilities and assets within and outside of the primary retail core.

“The final design of the project would be progressed through public consultation.

“The project would be delivered in two phases with a requirement from DfC to spend half of the funding before April 2021 and the remainder to be spent before April 2022.”

Councillors have welcomed the move.

It was recommended that a further localised meeting be held to “discuss this funding opportunity and to seek ideas from members”.

Ms Rafferty said the recommendation was to work in partnership with the Department for Communities developing a public realm scheme in central Craigavon and that a meeting is held with the chair and vice-chair of the economic committee and councillors from the Craigavon DEA.

The recommendation was proposed by Deputy Lord Mayor Kyle Savage, seconded by Sinn Fein Councillor Paul Duffy.

Alderman Jim Speers specifically enquired as to what area was defined as “central Craigavon”.

He said “one side is usually fairly well attended to by the shopping centre”.

Ms Rafferty said it was difficult to pinpoint without referring to a map.

But she attempted to do just that, saying: “It would be the lands adjacent to and between the Civic Centre and Rushmere and Marlborough House. That is the area that’ defined as Central Craigavon.”

Alderman Speers responded: “The one side of the road is fairly well manicured and looks particularly well. There is an opportunity I believe at the other side over next to Tesco and those properties over there to have an equally tidy area. I think it’s just really a matter of having a discussion with the developer there with a view to trying to get that area tidied up.”

Ulster Unionist Councillor Sam Nicholson referred to ongoing works at the South Lake Leisure Centre and in particular paving to the front.

I have a horrible feeling when it all gets finished the rest of the lake’s going to look very tired,” he said.

And Councillor Nicholson asked: “Would that be included within that DfC proposal around the lakes?”

The head of department said it would not all fall into the area anticipated.

She explained: “DfC monies are for town centres so part of that might border into town centre but the whole area wouldn’t.”

In response to Alderman Ian Burns, Ms Rafferty also confirmed that “preliminary work” was still taking place in relation to the progression of a public realm scheme in Banbridge town centre.

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