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Environmental Improvement Schemes Announced By NMD Council

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Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has announced that is proposing to undertake Environmental Improvement (EI) Schemes in Bessbrook, Castlewellan, Rostrevor and Saintfield.

Following investment by the Department for Communities, Department for Infrastructure, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and Council, the EI Schemes will improve the physical infrastructure of the villages under the 'Small Settlements Regeneration Programme'.

The Council, along with its consultants at AECOM, collaborated closely with the local community and statutory stakeholders during the design and planning application process for each settlement. Proposed initiatives encompass improvements to the public realm, enhancements to footpaths, installation of new street furniture and lighting, and the provision of public seating.

Planning submissions for all four settlements were granted approval in late 2023, and the projects are currently advancing through procurement stages to facilitate the commencement of site works in early 2024. Contractors will be reaching out directly to affected businesses and premises to provide updates on the planned schedule of works in the forthcoming weeks.

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Under the 'Small Settlements Regeneration Programme', the Council has also commenced delivery of seven revitalisation schemes in the villages of Annalong, Dundrum, Hilltown, Killyleagh, Meigh, Newtownhamilton, Strangford and Killough and several of these regeneration projects, including shop front and dereliction enhancement schemes, have been completed to date.

Department for Communities Minister, Gordon Lyons, said: "The regeneration initiatives currently being delivered by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council through funding from the Small Settlements Programme will make our small towns and villages more appealing, accessible, vibrant, and welcoming. They will provide facilities, infrastructure, and help to make them even more attractive places where people will want to live, work, visit and invest."

Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Andrew Muir, commented: "This continued investment in revitalising and regenerating rural towns and villages will enhance the aesthetic appeal and sustainability of these settlements. The Covid Recovery Small Settlements Regeneration Programme acts a catalyst for further regeneration and investment, it will increase the footfall of locals and visitors alike, and the dwell time of users. This will help economic activity and have a positive effect on the health and wellbeing of all who shop locally or visit."

Department for Infrastructure Minister John O'Dowd said: "The Small Settlements Regeneration Programme is a great example of inter-departmental working to deliver real change in how people live and work in the post pandemic world. I am delighted that my department was able to contribute to this programme which supports initiatives on the ground and has already brought tangible benefits to our rural communities."

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Valerie Harte concluded: "The Small Settlement Regeneration Programme will enable significant investment in revitalising our small towns and villages creating a more vibrant and welcoming environment. The regeneration of our small settlements is a wonderful example of how local communities actively engage and inform development initiatives to enhance their futures. This funding will help connect our communities and create public spaces that will encourage active travel and enhance the quality of life in Newry, Mourne and Down."

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