Merchants Quay regeneration scheme before planners

May 13, 2013

Newry and Mourne District Council is set to discuss phase 2 of the public realm scheme at a town planning meeting this week. The £2.4 million project, which has been recommended for approval by the planning department in Craigavon, will see the regeneration of Merchant’s Quay stretching from Buttercrane Quay up to Merchants Quay in Sugar Island.

The scheme will include the replacement of the existing canal boundary wall with a new decorative maritime railing and the removal of car parking spaces on Merchant’s Quay to facilitate a new, wider, granite paved/ kerbed pathway. New decorative street lighting, street furniture, tree planting and public art are also proposed as part of the ambitious regeneration scheme. The-project of which DSD is providing £2m-with the council contributing the other £400,000 is proposed to run until early 2014.

While the enhancements are welcomed by most, a source of contention among many traders and organisations in the area is the removal of parking spaces along Merchants Quay.  Some feel that the loss of the spaces for visitors and workers may lead to increased traffic congestion in the city centre and more unauthorised parking throughout residential areas such as Patrick Street and Dominic Street.  Potential solutions to these issues have already begun however, with the maintaining of the free car park in North Street and increased policing of unauthorised parking in residential areas.

The proposed upgrade follows the previous public realm improvement scheme in Monaghan Street and Hill Street, which caused much disruption to the public and businesses.  With an expected completion date of spring next year, the Merchants Quay scheme could mark the start of months of disruption ahead.