£2.2m to be spent on new public realm

Disruption caused during the last public realm scheme.
Disruption caused during the last public realm scheme.

Portadown looks set for another public realm scheme - but Lord Mayor Darryn Causby insists that “lessons have been learned” since the last one.

The first scheme in 2009 was criticised by traders who said it had damaged business.

This week some traders gave a cautious welcome to the plans - but said a number of crucial issues would need to be taken on board.

These include ensuring one area is completely finished before contractors move onto the next and possible night-time working.

The £2.2 million ‘Linkages’ project, which includes areas such as Bridge Street, West Street and Woodhouse Street, is designed to upgrade streets not included in the 2009 scheme.

It will also link areas such as the train station, People’s Park and the River Bann with the town centre.

Plans have been submitted and are dependent on funding being obtained.

Council said that if the project goes ahead, there will be consultation with people and businesses.

Six areas of Portadown have been earmarked for the new £2.2 million public realm scheme designed to ‘link’ them in with the town centre.

They are Bridge Street, Castle Street and Wilson Street; Obins Street, Park Road and Woodhouse Street; West Street; Bridge Street and Carrickblacker Road; Bridge Street South and Meadow Lane; and Craigwell Avenue.

Work will range from resurfacing of footpaths, new kerbs and upgrading of bollards, bins, street lighting and signage to tree planting and raised tree planters and formalisation of existing on-street parking.

Lord Mayor Darryn Causby, who has had a number of meetings with traders, said the scheme will enhance the town and ensure continuity between areas.

He explained, “In West Street, the public realm scheme stopped at the House of Fireplaces, but we want to extend it now to the Red Bridge which is a key link to the town centre for residents in Corcrain and Redmanville.

“The same goes for Woodhouse Street, Park Road and the Tunnel area, where the improvements will fill a gap which hasn’t been upgraded, improve the approach to the train station and tie in with the work going on in the park.”

He added, “From experience, the projects that are most advanced are the ones most likely to get the funding and that is why we want to be ‘shovel ready’.

He acknowledged there had been a feeling of “apprehension” among traders who had questions about access and the town being “dug up”.

Added the Mayor, “But this time it’s about specific areas being done at a specific time, and we will be working closely with traders to ensure minimal disruption and access to their properties.

“There are also significant stretches that have no traders at all.”

John Hoy of John C Hoy Butcher’s in West Street said that “while the finished product will probably be alright” the council needs to ensure that only one area is upgraded at a time. He also has concerns that if even one lane is closed to traffic in Edenderry, long tailbacks will ensue.

He added, “I suggested night-time working and I would like the council to take both these issues into consideration.”

Gary Kidd, of GK Stores in West Street, said the original public realm scheme had “ruined” his former cafe and newsagent’s business in Market Street, He said, “We started off really, really well but the work affected our trade big time. You couldn’t get in or out of the shop. It was a disaster.”

“If they come and get the work done quickly, fair enough. This is a very busy area and we rely on that business.”