Plans to upgrade large areas of the centres of Warrenpoint and Newry
Have been put on the long finger after the DSD told the council that it currently could not make funding available for either project. Stakeholders in both projects that would have seen upgrades in Church Street and the Square in Warrenpoint as well as the Library and Cathedral sections of Hill Street in Newry, had been previously warned that securing funding in the short term for either project would prove challenging. Despite this public consultations were staged and planning applications lodged in the hope of bringing both projects to a ‘shovel ready’ position. Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting of the Statutory Transition Committee (STC) of Newry and Mourne District Council’s Development Director Gerard McGivern delivered the bad news. “The economic appraisals were approved but DSD has confirmed that it is not in a position to deliver these schemes this year,” he said. “Funding will be required in the 2015/16 and 16/17 which brings it under the Shadow Council. So we are asking the STC would recommend the inclusion in the Shadow Council’s budget. The Cathedral Corridor Project and the Warrenpoint scheme will require £2.668m over two years.” Speaking to the Newry Reporter Mayor Michael Ruane said that whilst the news was disappointing it represented merely a delay and not a cancellation of the two schemes. It is disappointing that it isn’t happening as soon as we had hoped,” he said. “But at the same time we were aware that it could be put back and unfortunately it has. We learned at the meeting today that it will fall under the remit of the new council and the STC has made the decision that it will carry that forward in the new Council. As long as that happens that is the main thing.” With the responsibility of delivering public realm schemes transferring to councils from DSD as part of the super council project Mayor Michael Ruane believes that in the long term more projects will make it off the drawing board. “As far as we are being made aware the central government will now make that money available through the councils so we would hope it would carry on as normal but with the council having full input as to the spend of it. The way it was being done I would not like to say rushed but it was a quick turn around and this allows us to stand back a wee bit and have a look at what we are doing and to get it as right as possible.” Interestingly with rate bills landing on the door mats of residents this week the postponement of the two projects already creates a £250,000 surplus in the annual budget of the council.
9th April 2014