Mourne, Gullion and Lecale Rural Development Partnership (MGL) recently approved environmental improvements to the value of over £3.2 million for villages in the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council area.

Extensive consultation carried out with local stakeholders, including Councillors and voluntary and community groups, identified environmental deficiencies in Annalong, Ballyhornan, Dundrum, Hilltown, Killyleagh, Newtownhamilton and Meigh.

The consultation reinforced the need for Village Improvement Schemes in these locations and informed each village’s individual renewal design, which will include a combination of new paving, new street lighting, gateways, railings, shrubbery and landscaping, refurbishment of public toilets, tree surrounds to existing trees, new tree planting, removal of overhead wires and coloured road coatings.  

Grant funding from the Village Renewal Scheme of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme (NIRDP) 2014-2020, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), and administered by MGL’s Local Action Group (LAG), under the LEADER approach, will be provided to these projects along with a significant contribution from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. The environmental improvements will enhance the physical and social infrastructure within the villages, leading to enhanced aesthetics and an increase in civic pride.
In response to the recent announcement, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Charlie Casey said, “There is a direct link with village renewal schemes and the core outcomes of the Council’s Corporate Plan, which aims to engage with local communities and to lead on the regeneration of towns and villages including investment in rural development. The environmental improvements for these villages will actively encourage and pursue working in partnership at all levels to deliver for the district”.  
Councillor Roisin Mulgrew, Chairperson of MGL Rural Development Partnership said, “Village renewal initiatives were identified as a high priority when the MGL funding strategy was being developed. These environmental improvements fit within the overall aim to facilitate the regeneration of many villages within the Mourne, Gullion and Lecale and their surrounding areas by improving their economic prospects and quality of life”.
Jerome Burns, Contract Manager, DAERA said, “The development of up to date village plans, previously funded by DAERA’s Rural Development Programme, has enabled rural dwellers to identify priority actions and take ownership of plans for their own areas. I am delighted that over £3 million Village Renewal funding from DAERA’s Rural Development Programme has now been awarded to implement these Environmental Improvement Schemes across a range of villages in the Newry, Mourne and Down area; the outcomes of which will improve and enhance the quality of life for those living in these rural areas”.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chief Executive, Marie Ward endorsed the project. She said, “This is a key driver for achieving the vision of the Community Plan, the focus of which is to identify local issues and actions that will ultimately improve the quality of life and economic wellbeing for rural people. The village plans are a bottom up approach, informed by local community and owned by the local community”.
Consultants White Young Green were appointed to design and implement the seven Village Renewal schemes. Contractor, Whitemountain were procured to implement the required works. All works are expected to be completed by late summer 2020, with all village businesses remaining open as usual throughout the project timescales.
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