Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Forkhill barracks housing scheme officially opened

A new housing scheme built on the former military barracks site in Forkhill, was officially opened last week by Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill.

The completion by Fold Housing Association of Park Urney in Forkhill marks a further significant milestone in the redevelopment of the site under a joint project between the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and Department for Social Development (DSD).

The regeneration of the former army camp base aims to benefit the local community with the development of community and leisure facilities, including a creche, a 3g pitch as well as business units to help grow the local economy.

During a visit to the site Minster O’Neill met with new tenant Ms Brigid O`Hanlon.

Minister O’Neill said: “I very much welcome the completion of the Park Urney housing scheme by Fold Housing Association, which will provide affordable housing for the local community. This brings us a step closer to the full regeneration of the former military site in partnership with the Forkhill and District Development Association (FADDA).

“Speaking with Brigid in her new home it is very much apparent how the regeneration of this former British military site is improving the lives of our rural dwellers.”

Speaking about the wider redevelopment Minister O’Neill said: “DARD and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council jointly funded the appointment of Groundwork NI to assist Forkhill District Development Association in bringing forward proposals for development of the ‘Green Space’ in the overall site development and the production of design options and ideas which bring creativity, innovation and excitement.”

The Minister concluded: “My officials will continue to provide assistance to FADDA, working in partnership with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and the Executive, to help ensure delivery of their vision for the village of Forkhill.”

South Armagh MLA Megan Fearon welcomed the official opening of the new housing development and said it represented “another major step in the continued redevelopment of Forkhill.”

“While this high quality build scheme is fantastic in itself, the even better news is that this is just phase one of an overall project that will include a green space and an illuminated walkway” said the Sinn Fein MLA

“As well as the Fold Housing Association I want to thank Minister Michelle O’Neill for her efforts in pushing this project and ensuring it reached completion and of course her predecessor Michelle Gildernew who first started this project ten years ago.

“It’s highly satisfying that this site, for so long associated with the occupation and oppression of this village and the wider area, will now be used to really serve the needs of the people.”