Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland has officially launched the Masterplan for South East Coast which will help transform Warrenpoint and Kilkeel over the next decade and beyond.

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland pictured with (l) Chairman of Down District Council, Michael Coogan and (r) Mayor of Newry and Mourne District Council, John McArdle at the launch of the South East Coast MasterplanThe Masterplan provides the strategic vision and guidance for the regeneration and development of the three towns of Newcastle, Kilkeel and Warrenpoint over the next 15 years.

Minister McCausland said: “The Mourne Mountains is an area of outstanding natural beauty and the towns of Newcastle, Kilkeel and Warrenpoint together have a strong role to play in supporting visitors to the Mournes and the wider South East Region. The Masterplan proposal shows how these three individually distinct centres by working together, can become collectively strong to provide the full tourism offering that will help to drive direct public and private investment in the region.

“Some of the exciting and ambitious proposals in the Masterplan include a Gondola into the Mournes, a premier attraction that could become a signature project for the entire South East Coast. Other proposals include the development and promotion of Kilkeel Harbour to champion its fishing industry heritage and reputation for fine seafood cuisine and a proposal to build on Warrenpoint’s reputation as a centre for watersports, with a new marina providing direct access to Carlingford Lough to support boat trips and visiting cruisers. 

“I am confident that the Masterplan launched here today shows how the South East Coast can strengthen its reputation as a high quality scenic destination with rich and diverse range of exciting activities.”

Mayor of Newry & Mourne District Council, Councillor John McArdle said: "Much time and effort by a broad range of stakeholders has been invested in the creation of this Masterplan. It is my hope that a continuation of the close working relationships particularly, between both Councils and DSD, could lead to real progress and delivery of identified projects across the South East Coast region." 

The proposals include:

· In Warrenpoint, the plan seeks to promote and develop the town’s reputation as a hub for watersports and activities, utilising its location on Carlingford Lough. Developing a marina would be a major attraction for the town as it would support boat trips and visiting cruise ships.

· In Kilkeel, home to one of the largest fishing fleets on the island of Ireland, the plan proposes to promote the working harbour as an attraction for tourists to visit and experience the fish market for themselves. Creating new improved state of the art play parks and improved access points to the beach will help to drive year round interest in the town.

· In Newcastle, the plan proposes to build on the success of the new promenade by expanding the range of beachside activities offered and create a new signature project ‘The Donard Gondola’, a premier tourist attraction that will allow family groups to explore and understand the Mourne Mountains. 

On his way to Kilkeel, the Minister took time to tour the South East Coast to see and appreciate the regeneration opportunities offered in the Masterplan.

The Minister continued: “The South East Coast enjoys a stunning coastline that runs from Warrenpoint through Kilkeel onto Newcastle, all against the picturesque setting of the Mourne Mountains. This plan shows how we can maximise the appeal of these assets to underpin a sustainable economy by creating new activities and facilities that will drive year-round visitor interest as people want to spend more time exploring, playing and enjoying the area.”

Michael Coogan, Chairman of Down District Council, stated: “The production of the Masterplan allows both Councils to work in partnership to maximise potential development opportunities, at the same time raising the profile of the entire South East Coast at home and abroad."

The Masterplan is available to view on the DSD website at on the Newry and Mourne District Council website at

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