Tomorrows meeting of Newry, Mourne and Down Council's, Strategy, Policy and Resources Committee promises to be a lively affair, with a motion by Councillor Gavin Malone asking for a postponement of the proposed Newry Civic Centre project for the rest of the councils term.

The SDLP have also called for a review of Capital programmes spend at the meeting. This no doubt will entail discussions on the Civic Centre, Theatre and Public Realm Schemes but also possibly the 'peoples' choice -  the Public Park at the Albert Basin, with Councillor Michael Savage saying "The Park is the priority for the SDLP in any review of the capital plan."

Councillors will also be read a report entitled "Newry City Centre Regeneration - Notice of Motion" by ERT Director, Conor Mallon, with a recommendation that the committee approves the continuation of work on the Newry City Regeneration programme which includes the Civic Centre along with the proposed new theatre/ conference facility at Newry Town Hall and associated Public Realm works.

Finance for the Newry City Centre Regeneration scheme will come from Council and Belfast Region City Deal the report says, as well as "potential funding in excess of £10M" coming from "a range of external funders"

The report says that Belfast Region City Deal funding for the Public Realm and Grade A office is reliant on Council committing to delivery on the Theatre, Conference and Civic Hub adding that "Any change to the programme of BRCD funded elements within the NCCR project could create reputational delivery risk, create uncertainty for the Digital/ Innovation elements and place funding at risk."

An artists impression of the proposed Newry Civic Centre.
An artists impression of the proposed Newry Civic Centre.

Cllr Malone's motion states:

"The Council recognises that society has changed fundamentally within the last four months and there will most likely be austere times for many residents of our district for the foreseeable future, the Council also recognises the new financial realities in the time ahead for us as a local authority and therefore it is now time to postpone any further work on the proposed new civic centre project for the remainder of this term."

Chamber Support

Newry Chamber of Commerce have written to Council in support of the Civic Centre with CEO, Colm Shannon saying "The Civic Centre will complete the regeneration of that part of the City and complement the new Conference and Arts Centre, providing a balanced core at the heart of the City. The Civic Centre itself is an important statement of intent. In addition to being used by the Council's staff, it can act as an important regional hub attracting Civil Service jobs to Newry."

A letter from Shane Devlin, Chief Executive of the Southern Trust  also forms part of the meeting agenda and writing about the potential for Daisy Hill Hospital to purchase the current council offices at Monaghan Row Mr Devlin said "On 2 June 2020, the Senior Management Team of the Trust took the decision to approve an initial opportunity appraisal for the site and we are now in the process of developing an Outline Business Case to present for approval to our Trust Board."

The SPR Meeting will be held online tomorrow evening at 6pm.

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