Newry.ie

Newry, Mourne and Down Council will soon be publishing their Albert Basin park consultation survey, to gauge public opinion on what facilities should be included in the design of the public park and local political figures and community representatives have called for the public to make sure they get involved. At present Newry remains the only city in Ireland without a public park!

The original draft survey  proposed last week at the Albert Basin Park Task and Finish meeting included questions relating to housing and commercial development on the site but following resistance from those present and condemnation from the broader community  a second draft omitting both was agreed at a subsequent meeting.

Newry 2020 published their reaction on Monday on their Facebook page "We are happy to report great news on the council's proposed public survey. At a meeting of the Working Group on Friday, Newry 2020 got almost all of the changes we asked for. It was unanimously agreed that all mention of housing on the site must go, and the survey now specifies that any commercial development must be on a "micro" scale and "compatible with a park".

The statement added "Make no mistake this was a huge win for the community - none of this would have happened without public pressure! It shows that openness and transparency are absolutely critical to the future success of this project"

The group has called on everyone to support the upcoming consultation to "make it clear to the council that we expect them to deliver the best city park in Ireland."

Green Open Space

Newry City  Councillors, Gary Stokes and Michael Savage have also encouraged the people of the city and district to get involved in the consultation process

Speaking after the councillors proposed that all references to housing be removed from the park’s consultation questionnaire and any commercial development references be defined as relating to micro-hospitality or activity and well-being commercial development compatible with a park, both Councillors said a major step has been taken in getting a new 15 Acre City Park built.

Cllr Michael Savage said: "There were concerns about references to housing and commercial development within the initial drafts of the consultation questionnaire and I was happy to propose that we remove any references to residential development in the Park and to confine our ambitions for commercial development to the micro-hospitality and activity and wellbeing sectors that we believe are compatible with a park setting.

"This was unanimously supported by all Councillors and subsequently supported by the Albert Basin Park Task and Finish Group. This now means that the consultation can be rolled out over the coming weeks and this is a significant step forward in getting the 15 Acre Park built on the Albert Basin and I would encourage everyone to have their say on what they want to see in our new park."

Councillor Gary Stokes, who has campaigned for a 15 acre park on the Albert Basin for over a decade, said he believed that significant potential hurdles have now been overcome and a clear pathway to delivering a People's Park in the city is in sight.

He said: "We as a Council voted unanimously for a 15 Acre Park on the Albert Basin and following the finalising of the consultation questionnaire this week we are now asking the people of our city and district what they would like to see in the park.

"We voted for a Park on the site and we have now presented a questionnaire that reflects what we voted for and the people will now get their chance to tell us what they would like to see in the 15 Acre Park.

"The Covid-19 Pandemic has clearly demonstrated how much the people of this city and district need a green open space to walk, congregate and take exercise and we now have the potential to build a facility that is the jewel in the district's crown and a real asset to our city and its people.

"It is very important that everyone has their say on what they would like to see in the park and we want to make sure that all generations play their part in shaping it so from young children through to grandparents we want to hear your ideas about what you would enjoy in our fantastic new open public space.

"The SDLP has led the way in campaigning for a 15 Acre Park at the Albert Basin and we are confident that this will now be delivered and we want to ensure that the space is a People's Park - shaped by the people for the people - so it's important everyone gets involved in the consultation which will be announced shortly by the Council. This has been a good week for all of us who have fought hard for this project - the 15 Acre Park on the Albert Basin is now a step closer."

Key Stakeholders should have their say

Also commenting today on the upcoming Public consultation Newry City Councillor Roisin Mulgrew, who is also Chairperson of the Councils ‘Albert Basin Task and Finishing Working Group’ said "Key stakeholders from the community, voluntary and statutory agencies  such as community groups, youth organisations, older people’s groups, children’s /child care groups, Disability Support Groups, schools, sporting & cultural organisations and many others should all have their say on this project”.

Cllr Mulgrew explained how the consultations will work with a number of on-line workshops for people to put forward their ideas, An on-line and hard copy survey will be available to give everyone the opportunity to express their views. Efforts will also be made to engage with families and young people  and especially with schools and youth organisations

The Newry City Councillor added "These workshops etc will run over the next few weeks and I would encourage everyone to engage. This information will be crucial in determining the design of the park and will allow elected representatives and council officials  to move on to the next stage of the process.

“The people of Newry deserve a 15 acre city centre park and Sinn Féin is committed to delivering it. Working together with  all key stakeholders, statutory, voluntary and community  we will endeavour to deliver a top of the range city centre park, drawing on best international examples and which ultimately will be an incredible community asset for the people of Newry, for the district and further afield”

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