Newry.ie

Plans by the Department for Infrastructure for a 3 Week Pilot Project on Hill Street in Newry involving removal of on street car parking spaces and addition of temporary infrastructure to facilitate social distancing and encourage more cycling and walking appears to have been put on hold today.

The initiative stems from an announcement earlier this month by DFI Minister Nichola Mallon to roll out an 'innovative green infrastructure' in Newry, Belfast and Derry following her appointment of a cycling and walking champion in the department.

Newry.ie believe work was to begin on the project today or tomorrow. It is not yet known when, or if it will actually begin.

Newry BID released a statement last night expressing their disappointment at the lack of consultation on the proposed plan.

A busy Hill street in Newry this morning. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
A busy Hill street in Newry this morning. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

"The BID is very disappointed to learn late on Saturday night that the proposed pilot scheme to remove car parking spaces on Hill Street will start tomorrow (Monday 25th) with Department of Infrastructure workers moving in to remove spaces.

"This is particularly disappointing given that we had fed traders strong objections back to Council for onward transmission to Department of Infrastructure.

"The BID has since reiterated members profound objections to this to local MLAs, Councillors and Council Senior Management. It is heartening to note that Liz Kimmins MLA and Councillor Gary Stokes have responded immediately to acknowledge their support to challenge this pilot."

The BID spokesperson added "Traders are supportive of walking & cycling initiatives and safe shopping naturally. However, the loss of car parking spaces on Hill Street with no consultation, when businesses have never been under more pressure and in Newry where over 95% of visitors /shoppers and workers travel in by car is madness.

"The proposed offer of free car parking behind Boyds Stores isn’t acceptable to the traders in Upper Hill Street where the pilot scheme losses are and this car park is earmarked for loss to as part of the Councils proposed Civic Centre.

Proposed plans for a DFI pilot scheme on Hill Street in Newry have been postponed. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Proposed plans for a DFI pilot scheme on Hill Street in Newry have been postponed. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie



"Introducing this initiative unilaterally during the biggest downturn and threat in over a century is beyond belief. The pavements in Hill Street are amongst the widest in town, there is public realm space and the traders have been successfully managing queues."

Huge Concern and Anger

MLA Liz Kimmins contacted the DFI and Council to request  that any change in the parking capacity along Hill Street is put on hold until proper consultation with local traders is carried out saying that the announcement  that car parking spaces along Hill Street were to be removed with immediate effect had caused huge concern and anger amongst the Business community.

"This has caused huge shock and anger amongst the Business community as I am aware that the feedback given to the Council on this issue by key stakeholders from the business sector  was a resounding rejection of the current proposals.

The Newry and Armagh representitive added "I am supportive of walking & cycling initiatives and safe shopping, however there has to be balance in any scheme rolled out. There are genuine concerns about the rationale behind the decision to remove car parking spaces and ultimately the very negative impact it will have on the sustainability of those businesses along Hill Street, who like many others in our city, are doing their utmost to stay open."

Newry.ie have asked the Department for Infrastructure for more information on the proposals.

 

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