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Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is reminding anyone still wishing to participate in its Newry City Centre Regeneration (NCCR) public consultation survey to do so before the end of the month. An online questionnaire opened on Monday 8 March 2021 and is due to close on Monday 31 May 2021.

Speaking on behalf of the Newry City Centre Regeneration (NCCR) Board, Co-Chairpersons, Councillors Roisin Mulgrew and Pete Byrne thanked everyone who had taken part so far.

An artists impression of the Theatre/ Conference Centre at Newry Town Hall/ Sean Hollywood Arts Centre.

In a joint statement they said, “There has been a high level of participation in the consultation to date and we are keen to keep receiving as many views as possible. 

“Newry is a key investment location that can lead to economic growth and opportunities not only for Newry City, but for the entire district. This significant investment and development opportunity has huge potential, and as we begin to emerge from COVID-19, vision and ambition is required more than ever to positively tackle the challenges ahead.

“As the public consultation draws to a close, we will be sharing further detail on individual aspects of the Newry City Centre Regeneration Project over the coming weeks and months.”

The NCCR proposals are a range of projects which aim to invest directly within the historic core of the City, aiming to increase vibrancy and footfall, and stimulating further investment and regeneration for the benefit of the entire district. 

Council committed £26M

The ongoing consultation process is linked to the Belfast Region City Deal (BCRD) projects also currently in progress. The Council has committed £26m to these projects, and a further £8m from the Department for Communities via BRCD is being finalised. The Theatre/Conference Centre and Civic and Regional hub facilities are the cornerstones of the regeneration investment, with BRCD funding delivering public realm around the Council’s projects. An office fund will enable the private sector to respond flexibly in provision of office accommodation to suit workplace changes due to the impact of COVID-19.

Concept Park Design this summer

The 15-acre Albert Basin Park is also a NCCR project and was subject to public consultation in 2020. A project team, including external consultants, has been engaged to develop a concept design and high level budget costs for the Albert Basin Park based upon the feedback from the public consultation in 2020. The concept layout is expected this coming summer.

The online public consultation can be accessed via the Council’s website at NEWRY-CITY-CENTRE-REGENERATION 

Members of the public can send questions on the NCCR project to info@nmandd.org for consideration.

The Newry City Centre Regeneration Programme Board Elected Members are:

Cllr Roisin Mulgrew SF (Co-Chair)

Cllr Pete Byrne SDLP (Co-Chair)

Cllr Charlie Casey SF

Cllr Gary Stokes SDLP

Cllr Gavin Malone Independent

Cllr David Taylor UUP

Cllr William Walker DUP

Theatre/ Conference Questions and Answers

The new Theatre/Conference Centre will help advance the performing arts and culture sector of Newry, attract professional and aspiring artists to

our City, as well as provide a conference and events space to attract organisations and business events to the area.

In future weeks, as part of this series, we will focus on other aspects of the Newry City Centre Regeneration Programme such as the 15-Acre Albert Basin Park.

Proposed Theatre/Conference Centre

Q Why is the Council building a new Theatre/Conference Centre?

A The arts are well supported by the people of Newry, and the Council wants to widen the arts offering to attract more visitors to the City. More visitors mean we can nurture our arts and build a better evening economy. Also, having a new and unique conferencing offer will help attract more business visits to Newry to support our daytime economy.

Q Why is the Council removing the Sean Hollywood Arts Centre?

A The Sean Hollywood Arts Centre
is 35 years old; research shows that by modern standards it is very inefficient and approaching end of life. We want to replace the existing arts centre with a vibrant multi-purpose auditorium, intimate studio space and innovation hub. This new creative centre will provide educational programmes and include a café and exhibition space.

Q How many seats will the new auditorium have?

A We’re aiming for at least 250 seats, however the auditorium will be a flexible space that can accommodate a range of performance, conferencing and seating styles. We want to attract year-round professional performers. By combining the new auditorium and Town Hall we can potentially host events for around 700 people!

Q What is happening to the Town Hall?

A The historic Town Hall is getting renovated. We’re proposing a new goods lift, so theatre companies have better access to the stage; we also want to renovate all the toilets and changing rooms, fix the heating and make better use of the historic rooms as workshop space. When complete, a new glazed structure will link the Town Hall with the new auditorium building, with new stairs and a lift for better access, creating a facility that will play a pivotal role for Newry into the future.

Q What about the Ross Thompson site?

A We plan to re-open the Ross Thompson site as a new and memorable public performance space. The pedestrian link to Needham bridge will also be re-opened, and the whole area will be refinished with new paving, seats, lights and planting for public use.

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