Newry, Mourne and Down District Council: Empowering Our Potential

 

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is the third largest Council area in Northern Ireland, comprising more than 10 per cent of the total land area, including more than 100 miles of coastline. The Council serves over 176,000 residents (10 per cent of the population) and is one of the fastest growing areas of population.

In addition to Newry City, the principal towns within the District are Downpatrick, Ballynahinch, Kilkeel, Newcastle, Warrenpoint and Crossmaglen. The area is home to a strong concentration of indigenous and international companies, with two of Northern Ireland’s Top 100 Companies, Norbrook Laboratories and First Derivatives Plc, based in Newry City.

The economic and tourism potential is enormous with Newry City strategically placed on the A1/M1 Belfast to Dublin corridor, and Downpatrick in close proximity to Belfast. The District is well served with a strong retail offering and a diverse range of service industries, manufacturing and agri-food businesses. In addition, three areas of outstanding natural beauty are located in Strangford and Lecale, Slieve Gullion, and the Mournes, as well as numerous Blue Flag beaches, and an unrivalled link to St Patrick.

Located in the south east of Northern Ireland, and covering parts of counties Down and Armagh, the area is renowned for its scenic beauty. We are bounded on the east by Strangford Lough and Carlingford Lough, and on the west by Slieve Gullion and Slieve Croob, with the picturesque Mountains of Mourne at our centre. To complement our outstanding natural assets, we are also home to a number of significant built heritage assets including Struell Wells in Downpatrick, Dundrum Castle and Bagenal’s Castle in Newry City.

The District has excellent road and rail links with both Dublin and Belfast and contains a number of ports and harbours, providing direct access by water. In addition, the area enjoys the highest percentage of people who are in very good health (50.32 per cent). 70.1 per cent of people have no long-term health problems, the second highest of all the 11 Councils in Northern Ireland. There are two major hospitals, Daisy Hill in Newry City and the Downe in Downpatrick. Residents have excellent primary, secondary and tertiary educational establishments and can claim some of the best results in Northern Ireland. It is also home to two major education campuses in the South Eastern and the Southern Regional Colleges.

Investment priorities

The Council is working with key stakeholders to attract high level investment that will grow the economy and deliver better commercial, leisure and cultural space. We have an ambition to deliver accelerated growth across the District, and following widespread consultation, this has been assisted by the completion of a number of masterplans and village plans with key priorities identified to be delivered by all relevant stakeholders.

Newry City in particular is a key gateway city for business, tourism and investment on the island of Ireland, and the Council is proactively putting in place the actions that will make these priorities a reality, regenerating the core city centre and attracting new investment into the city. A number of recent studies examining new market opportunities and how they could contribute to an accelerated growth plan have been completed, and these have identified a number of significant opportunities.

The City is performing well across a number of sectors, perhaps most obviously retail, where new schemes are adding strength to the overall offer, attracting footfall, creating employment opportunities and placing Newry in the top 10 retail destinations in Ireland.

New Civic Centre and Conferencing/Theatre Facilities

To complement that retail growth the Council is proposing to invest directly in a new Civic Centre, including a new conference facility in the heart of Newry city centre. This significant regeneration project will lead to new employment opportunities and will create a better working environment for our Council staff, as well as a wide range of further tangible economic and cultural benefits for the people of the City and the surrounding area. In addition, a new Civic Centre will reinforce that Newry City is very much ‘open for business’.

Aligned and complementary to a new Civic Centre, there are plans for an enhanced theatre and conferencing facility. Newry has a thriving Performing Arts Community and it is the Council’s vision to provide the infrastructure and facilities to support enhanced and engaging arts, culture and conferencing programme in the City. It has the potential to attract professional and aspiring artists as well as conferences and events, which will generate further economic and social return for everyone in the area. Importantly, this investment will be a catalyst for additional investment activity and opportunities in the City. Additional studies undertaken in recent months point to an increasing demand for hotel and office space in the city centre.

Benefitting from a Belfast Region City Deal

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is also one of six councils in Northern Ireland committed to progressing a Belfast Region City Deal, aimed at achieving a step change in economic performance that will benefit all the citizens of Northern Ireland. It is believed that a City Deal could be a game changer for the entire Northern Ireland economy, playing a key role in positioning the region as it prepares for Brexit. Given the potential impact of Brexit and in particular on border areas such as Newry, the Council has put forward a number of investment initiatives to be considered as part of the City Deal, including local infrastructure projects to address the supply side of economic growth. A City Deal will empower our economic potential, creating jobs and improving skills through inclusive growth and innovation.

Investing in infrastructure

2018 is the Year of Infrastructure in Northern Ireland, an initiative being driven by ICE, the Institute of Civil Engineers and coincidentally investment in infrastructure across the District is a key priority for the Council. The Council has a number of additional infrastructure priorities of­ which may be funded through regional or local government or the private sector. These include the Southern Relief Road, Narrow Water Bridge, Warrenpoint Marina, Kilkeel Harbour, tourism infrastructure and improved broadband access.

The Council has recently invested and completed a £22 million state-of-the-art leisure facility in Newry and is nearing completion on a similar leisure facility in Downpatrick. It has also secured funding for major capital developments at Warrenpoint Municipal Park and Castlewellan Forest Park. The Council is also working with relevant Government Departments and funding agencies to produce development briefs for the former PSNI site in Irish Street in Downpatrick, Warrenpoint Baths and two strategic car parks in Ballynahinch.

Chairperson of the Council, Councillor Roisin Mulgrew said: “These are all highly compelling propositions, making Newry, Mourne and Down District one of Northern Ireland’s most attractive areas in which to live, work, learn, visit and invest. Our strategic location on the main economic corridor between Dublin and Belfast gives us a significant advantage, acting as an enabler for businesses within the District and allowing us to attract new inward investment. The prospect of a City Deal and a reduction in Corporation Tax, together with the enviable location between two capital cities, will undoubtedly elevate the Newry, Mourne and Down District as one of the most economically viable investment locations on the island of Ireland.”

Enterprise, Employment and Regeneration

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council


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