Council seeks to sell off city centre site

May 12, 2009

Newry and Mourne Council is seeking to sell off a prime city centre development site after a proposed development scheme fell victim to the economic climate, it has emerged.

The 15-acre site at Albert Basin has been the subject of a long and complex legal wrangle after it emerged last year that the Council had not followed the correct procedures in seeking submissions from potential developers of the site.

The process, which had commenced almost a year beforehand, had to be scrapped and a new and costly competition was initiated to choose a developer.

The competition closed in September after which a developer was short-listed and a period of dialogue with the Council was entered into.

However Mayor Colman Burns has announced that this period of dialogue is completed and that both parties were unable to agree a way forward with the proposed development.  It is believed the current economic climate may be a significant factor in the decision to terminate the project.

“Despite not achieving an agreeable way forward with the developer, the Council are aware that there are numerous other regeneration schemes throughout Britain and Ireland that have had to be put on hold or indeed abandoned,” the Mayor explained. “Indeed many of these initiatives have been much further down the road in terms of the client/developer relationships and contracts, than had been the case with the Albert Basin site.”

Mr Burns continued, “Having concluded this Tender Process, the Council considered options with its appointed advisers, before agreeing to now investigate the possibility of putting the lands up for sale. 

“In seeking to dispose of the lands, the Council would ensure that the Key Site Requirements as detailed in the Draft Area Plan would still remain, in order that any future development would be suitable and acceptable for one of Newry city’s most strategic sites.”

With this confirmation that there is now no agreement in place with the developer to proceed with the original scheme, it remains unclear what alternative options the Council has considered other than a potential sale.  A spokesperson for the Council was unable to respond to The Examiner inquiries before going to press.

The land may now be sold to a developer outside of the Council’s planned scheme, if, indeed, a buyer can be found.