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Open Letter To Members: Newry City Centre Regeneration

We would like to update our members on the Chamber’s current position on the Newry City Centre Regeneration Project.

Firstly, our long-stated position is that we welcome the proposed investment in our city. This has the potential to transform the economic and social environment for the citizens of our entire region. Newry may never see investment of this scale again in our lifetime.

It is important that this investment is transformational for Newry and acts as an economic catalyst, creating pride in our city as we approach the 20th Anniversary of city status.

We appreciate that investment of this scale takes time to progress through the stages of development, consultation, appraisal and planning. We appreciate that the Covid-19 pandemic has added further complications and delays. We believe however, we now approach a pivotal stage and it is important that the voices of Newry Chamber Members are heard.

Newry Chamber actively encouraged members to take part in the Regeneration Consultation, the findings of which were published and welcomed by the Chamber in September 2021. It was extremely encouraging to see more than 600 responses from the business community out of just over 1,500.

This shows that the business community in and around our city are engaged on the issues that matter to us all. The findings of the Consultation are publicly available and can be found HERE.

As a follow up to the Consultation, Newry Chamber invited Senior Council Officials to attend a meeting with Board Members to discuss the findings. This took place at the Chamber’s December Board Meeting. Board Members expressed the view to the Council that it is important to press on with delivery of some of the proposed projects as quickly as possible and to keep the community updated throughout.

The announcement by the Finance Minister of over £16m for the Albert Basin Park was warmly welcomed by the Chamber Board and encouragement was given towards speedy progress to deliver this very popular proposed project. The view was also expressed of the need to prioritise the various projects and move forward projects that present the least amount of difficulty in terms of planning and finance.

Marie Ward, Chief Executive, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council advised that a stakeholder group was being set up to discuss the findings from the Consultation and to work through any concerns or issues. The Chamber has welcomed this move.

Newry Chamber has been invited to participate in this forum and it will be doing so on behalf of all our members. We believe that all stakeholders should be given an opportunity to participate and voice their opinions on the way forward. This is in line with how other positive historical projects (e.g.) City Status and InterTradeIreland, now established in Newry, were delivered.

From the Consultation, the key concerns from the business community are:

• Proposed size of the Conference Centre/Theatre
• Location of Civic Centre and appropriate parking provision
• Timelines for the proposed traffic, transportation and car parking strategy
• Costs and timelines for each element of NCCR
• Information on the Grade A Office Fund/Budget Hotel
• Update on Albert Basin Park Project

While some of these issues have progressed since the consultation, including the welcome funding announcement for the Albert Basin Park, these are the key issues that we will bring to the table on behalf of you, our members.

We welcome and look forward to participating in this stakeholder forum. We welcome the opportunity to work with the Council and other stakeholders to address any concerns you may have.

Should you have anything further that you would like us to raise on your behalf please contact me on: tony@newrychamber.com.

We will be seeking permission to update members following each of the meetings to keep you up to date on the progress.

Tony McKeown
Chief Executive Officer
Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade