Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Steve Baker, heard first-hand about the exciting regeneration plans in development for Northern Ireland’s newest city on a visit to Bangor this afternoon.
The Minister enjoyed a tour of the waterfront area of the city with Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Jennifer Gilmour, and Council Chief Executive Stephen Reid.
He visited Queen’s Parade, an area of dereliction that is shortly to be regenerated by Bangor Marine, a joint venture between Farrans and the Karl Group. Aran Blackbourne of Bangor Marine outlined to the Minister the company’s plans for a mixed-use development on the site including new homes, a hotel, retail, office, community, cultural and recreational spaces, in addition to eateries and the creation of new public squares and courtyards. This represents an investment of £50M+, including £9.8M from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund that was secured in January of this year. The Levelling Up funding will be used to deliver the Marine Gardens (Public Realm) element of the wider redevelopment scheme.
The Minister then met with Council and DfC officials at Bangor Court House, which has recently been restored by Open House into a music and arts venue that provides a permanent home for the charity.
He heard about the Council’s plan to redevelop a 2-mile stretch of Bangor’s coastline, from Skippingstone Beach to Ballyholme, as part of the Belfast Region City Deal. The ambitious ‘Bangor Waterfront Redevelopment’ complements the Queen’s Parade plans and aims to deliver a significant boost to tourism and to encourage further investment in the city and wider Ards and North Down Borough.
It involves regenerating existing assets including Bangor’s 5 Anchor Marina and the popular family attraction, Pickie Fun Park, as well as significant development and improvement of public spaces. There are also plans to deliver a ‘Phase 2’ to the recently opened Court House music venue and to develop an international watersports facility at a new-look Ballyholme Yacht Club Watersports Centre.
Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Jennifer Gilmour, commented: “This is a very significant time for Bangor with the Queen’s Parade and Bangor Waterfront redevelopments offering the promise of £120M+ of investment into the area over the next 10 years. Both projects will deliver economic growth but also social and community benefits, as well as helping to put Bangor firmly ‘back on the map’.
“While we look forward to Bangor Marine starting work later in the year on Queen’s Parade, we recognise that both are complex and long-term projects, and we very much appreciate Minister Baker’s time today to hear more about the plans, opportunities and challenges ahead as we work to bring the two redevelopment schemes to fruition. His support for the regeneration of Bangor was fulsome and much appreciated by all partners involved.”
Gerard Murray, Director of Regional Development at the Department for Communities, emphasised the strategic importance of the projects discussed: “The Department is pleased to be working in close collaboration with partners in central and local government, and the private sector, to deliver the Queen’s Parade and Bangor Waterfront projects. These strategic projects will deliver a wide range of social and economic benefits, transforming the city into a more attractive place to live, work, visit and invest.”
Aran Blackbourne, Bangor Marine, added: “The City of Bangor has received a very positive boost from the UK Government Levelling Up Fund with £9.8M ringfenced for our company to deliver the Marine Gardens Public Realm space as part of the wider Queen’s Parade regeneration project. We appreciated the opportunity to thank Minister Baker in person for this financial support and to discuss with him how the NIO can further assist in the delivery of both the Queen’s Parade and Bangor Waterfront projects. Combined they offer a unique, once in a generation, opportunity to regenerate the new City and wider area as we continue to work hard to get everything in place to get work underway.”