Funding of £16.2 million has been unlocked for Newry City Park, helping realise one of the City’s most ambitious regeneration projects.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council’s Outline Business Case (OBC) for the park has now been approved by the Department for Communities and a Contract for Funding issued — opening access to £16.2 million from the Executive’s City/Growth Deal Complementary fund.
The Council is also underwriting £2.4 million to deliver a 15-acre City Park as part of Phase One.
At a meeting of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council on Monday, December 4, councillors approved the funding contract.
A temporary community space at the Newry City Park site also officially opened on Monday following a recent award of £220,000 from the Department for Communities (DfC) to the Council. The funding allowed an upgrade of part of the Albert Basin site for temporary community use while work progresses on Newry City Park.
Local stakeholders and community groups had expressed a wish to use the space for various activities, and following completion of the works the Council is pleased to open bookings for the facility. It is anticipated the site will host events such as small concerts, drama productions, film showings, free play opportunities and outdoor fitness activities. The area at the William Street entrance to the main Albert Basin is already used by several organisations, however the DfC funding allowed the Council to improve infrastructure at the location and open it up for further community use.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Cllr Valerie Harte said, “I am delighted the Contract for Funding for Newry City Park has now been issued by the Department for Communities. I, along with many other residents, were excited to see the plans for Newry City Park come to life in the recently released visuals for Phase One. Our focus is now on taking the project through detailed design, planning approval, contractor appointment and delivery on site through to completion by May 2027.”
Deputy Chairperson, Cllr Gareth Sharvin, attending the opening of the temporary community space on behalf of the Chairperson, added: “I also welcome the Contract for Funding being issued for Newry City Park and was pleased today to attend the official opening of the new temporary community space at the Newry City Park site, where Playboard NI delivered a free play event for local children. As we progress with Newry City Park as a priority, this excellent interim use of the Albert Basin is an exciting development for the City Centre, creating a shared outdoor space for the community in the heart of the city.
“Congratulations and thank you to all involved, particularly our funders, the Department of Communities, and Council contractors and suppliers on the delivery of the works.”
Co-chairs of the Newry City Centre Regeneration Programme Board, Councillor Declan Murphy and Councillor Cllr Doire Finn also welcomed the latest developments.
Cllr Murphy said: “We are delighted at the successful conclusion of the rigorous review process for the Council’s OBC and thank DfC for their dedicated work during this process. We look forward to the planned transformation of this urban space and also welcome the opening of the temporary outdoor space for the community in the heart of the city.
Cllr Finn said: “We look forward to the planned transformation of this urban space and bringing new life to this prime location along the new Carlingford Lough Greenway. We are committed to delivering a City Park of which Newry can be proud and will continue to work with our partners to ensure its delivery.”
Colum Boyle, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities said: “The Department for Communities is committed to the development of cities, towns and villages. This is very much a collective effort, with local councils, delivery partners and the communities themselves all involved. In this spirit of collaboration, I welcome the next stage in the regeneration of Newry City Park. This project will play a key role in making Newry an even more attractive place to live, work and visit. It will provide significant health and wellbeing benefits for residents of the City and the surrounding area. I am also pleased that the Department was able to provide additional funding for the interim event space at the Newry City Park site, which will add to the vibrancy of the City Centre.”
In September 2023 the Council released new visuals for Phase One of the park development, a Newry City Centre Regeneration project, incorporating changing places facilities, an inclusive play park, a sensory garden, an outdoor event space, water and urban sports areas, a plaza area for artisan markets and pop-up vending locations. These are complemented by green space, woodland areas, walking, cycling and running paths, with the park also upgrading links to Victoria Lock and the Greenway.