Hamilton Presses Saintfield Main Street Case at Stormont
Mr Hamilton was joined at the meeting by John Dumigan, Down District Council Chief Executive with Paul McGeown and Brenda Maitland of Saintfield Development Association.
Commenting after the meeting at Stormont. Mr Hamilton said: “I have been working closely with the Saintfield Development Association along with Down District Council for some time with the purpose of bringing forward a comprehensive redevelopment scheme for the Main Street.
“Saintfield is a fantastic village with a rich retail, heritage and environmental offering to residents and visitors. Yet it’s full potential as a destination to live, work and visit isn’t being reached. I believe at the primary reason for this is the poor state of the road and pavements in the Main Street.
“At present, several substantial investment projects in Saintfield are progressing positively. The Council is investing almost £5 million in a new leisure centre and town park, as well as working with the community to improve The Square and construct a new play park.
“This is a significant investment and is an illustration of the community working in partnership with local government to improve Saintfield. I worry that all of that investment whilst making a huge difference to the social and environmental fabric of Saintfield will not allow the village to reach its obvious potential because the Main Street is still in such a poor state of repair.
“I invited Minister Kennedy to visit Saintfield in November last year. He has seen for himself how bad things really are. We thought that this was an opportune time to meet the Minister again because of the possible availability of money in the budget for capital schemes like Saintfield Main Street as a result of the failure to proceed with the A5. We made a firm case to the Minister that if he and Executive colleagues are looking for capital projects to invest in this year and next, then Saintfield could usefully spend that money.”
At the meeting, Minister Kennedy was informed that the community in Saintfield have shown a self-reliance and have sourced funding for various schemes and have been actively supported by Down District Council. Mr Hamilton added: “It’s now time for the DRD and the NI Executive to support Saintfield with funds for this scheme which would transform Saintfield and help it reach its potential.
“I am grateful to the Minister for his commitment to work with Down District Council to update the costings of any possible scheme and to scope out further the scale of any work on the Main Street. I think this is a positive step forward and will in the future produce the result that we all want”.
Rowallene Councillor Billy Walker has also added his support to the Main Street improvements in Saintfield. He said: “As a Rowallene Councillor I am delighted that Simon Hamilton, John Dumigan and representatives of the Saintfield Development Association has met with Minister Kennedy to try and move this very worthwhile scheme forward.
“The Minister did visit Saintfield last year and saw first hand what was needed to be done. Down Council has worked on this for the last couple of years and now the project is parked on the shelf ready to be rolled out once funding is in place.
“This is a perfect opportunity to draw down on some of the available government funds and give Saintfield the great lift that it deserves.”