Up to £40 million of the Belfast Region City Deal is to be used on the complete redevelopment of the Bangor waterfront area, which will include a re-imagining of Ballyholme Beach and the redevelopment of Bangor seafront.
The redevelopment would also include the building of what Ards and North Down Borough Council call a “unique national visitor attraction” and would go some way towards establishing Bangor as the “Kinsale of the North” as was outlined in the Bangor Town Centre Masterplan released by the then North Down Borough Council (NDBC) in July 2011, before its amalgamation with Ards Borough Council.
The plan would feature a number of projects stretching the two miles from Pickie to Ballyholme, creating a “necklace of activities” along with new greenways and coastal paths linking the eastern and western ends of Bangor Bay. The North Down Proposals chapter of the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan also features two further walkways and two areas of land on the Ballyholme and Newtownards Roads to be saved for “health use”.
The original 2011 plan included the extension of the promenade to a new lookout point, the revitalisation of the promenade and gardens, the building of a lookout tower to give the marina an “iconic focal point” and a new plaza for markets and events, to be doubled up as a parking space when empty. Writing in 2011, NDBC said: “Without this anchor project capacity will continue to migrate out of town and so it is seen as the most fundamental ‘must have’ in the Masterplan.”
The redevelopment could take place simultaneously as the private redevelopment of the nearby Queen’s Parade area, which would include a range of residential, entertainment, and retail buildings. The £75 million project, which is being managed by Liverpool-based Cubic3 Design and Engineering along with local investors and businesses, will deliver a waterfront hotel, well-being centre, and water sports centre and connect the waterfront area to the town centre by extending the waterfront’s pedestrian path. Designations included in the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan specify that these developments will not stretch into protected housing areas in the town centre and will respect the town’s existing building line.
Sports facilities included will be both indoor and outdoor, with a floating pontoon planned for water sports. Other planned facilities include a winter garden, cinema and restaurants. The redevelopment of the Queen’s Parade area and the addition of retail facilities to Bangor was marked out as a priority in the 2011 Masterplan, with NDBC saying it was important to make the town “hugely desirable as a shopping destination to draw shoppers back from neighbouring towns” and identified the area as key to “substantially increase footfall and visitor numbers to the waterfront”.
A proposed major events space for the town would be flanked by a new theatre/hotel and provide a venue for a regular civic event programme. The McKee clock would be retained as the focal point for the area envisaged as the town’s new square an events hub for the Ards and North Down area.