Sinn Féin secure new plan for Newcastle harbour
South Down MP Chris Hazzard MP (Sinn Féin) is delighted that council have agreed to launch a task force to deliver a new master plan for Newcastle harbour.
The South Down MP and party colleagues, Cllr Cathy Mason and Cllr Willie Clarke, had a site meeting with senior council officials at the harbour to discuss the potential for future plans.
Mr Hazzard said: “I am pleased that council have recognised the need to start afresh when it comes to regenerating Newcastle harbour.
“Years of neglect has meant that this local beauty spot has not reached its potential. There is no doubt that with an ambitious and focused vision for the future, the harbour area could become a unique attraction, meeting the needs of not just the local community, but also as an exciting destination for those that visit Newcastle.”
Cllr Cathy Mason added: “It is pleasing to hear a commitment from Newry Mourne and Down District Council to move ahead with a new plan for the harbour. The establishment of a dedicated task force should help momentum especially having the right people around the table, as all those with an interest in Newcastle harbour are essential to this process.
“I look forward to hearing ideas from members of the local community as they need to have a proactive voice in this process. Newcastle harbour doesn’t exist in isolation – it is a massive part of the vibrant local Newcastle community.
“Any plan for the future of Newcastle harbour must be delivered in partnership with the local community,” said Cllr Mason.
The Background to the Newcastle Harbour Development.
Speaking the the the Council’s Economic Regenegaration and Tourism committee meeting, a council officer explained the background to the Newcastle harbour development, saying that essentially it was to review the 2011 Newcastle Harbour Conservation Plan and how the harbour and its hinterland could be further developed.
Newcastle harbour and the watch tower are designated under the AONB and ASSI legislation and are recognised under the Area of Townscape Character.
To date, Council has progressed with:
- finalising a contract with a third party for the lease of the pump house,
- making arrangements for boat berthing in the harbour,
- a contract now being in place to dredge the sand bar at the harbour entrance to ensure safe entry and exit,
- a new user group now working with Council to explore the possibilities of pontoons and improving the electricity supply around the harbour,
- and a sea charter vessel is operating in the harbour with a contract until 2024.
The council officer added that it was important to protect the “strong community use” recognising the ownership mix of property with organisations such as the Newcastle Yacht Club, DfL, the private sector and Council.
Private entrepreneurs are also looking at developing the potential of the roof of the NI Water treatment works for an innovative mixed use scheme.
Newry Mourne and Down District Council has also developed a Mournes’ Gateway Project through the Belfast Region City Deal and this too will impact on the harbour area.
Proposals are now looking at developing Newcastle harbour in context of the developments of Newcastle and the wider area. The South East Coast Masterplan will be examined along with the other masterplans for the area so that the harbour development blends into the overall development model.
The proposal will go to the next full council meeting in early October to be ratified.