Businessman says Lurgan is ‘ghost town’

Lurgan Town Centre. INLM2611-511gc
Lurgan Town Centre. INLM2611-511gc

A Lurgan businessman has blamed ‘extortionate’ government rates for leaving Lurgan a ‘ghost town’.

The man, who owns property in the town centre, said extremely high rates levels has led him to rethink the use of one of his properties.

And though there is an application to change the use of a popular Lurgan bar into apartments, the current leasee says the bar remains open.

The former International Bar, now known as the Orchard County Bar in Lurgan’s Castle Lane has always been a popular fixture in the town centre and the Lurgan man who is leasing the bar says he has no plans to close.

He told the ‘MAIL’: “It is a popular bar and we will continue to trade.”

Owner of the property at 28 Market Street which includes the bar and off sales said he has no desire to close but given the massive cost of rates, he feels he has no alternative but to change its use in the long term.

He said it was financially not viable to pay £20,000 a year in rates for a bar whereas if he turned it into apartments that would reduce to around £1,500 per year.

“People can’t compete with these rates. It is not a hard business decision to opt for a change of use,” he said.

“Lurgan is a ghost town and the rates are to blame,” he said.

“I am paying massive rates and they are not even lifting my bins,” he said.

“The council says they don’t have the money to invest in business but yet they can put up money for big fancy footpaths that nobody walks on,” he added.

The property owner listed a number of local businesses which had shut up shop lately and he blamed the high rates for turning Lurgan into a ‘ghost town’. “It is scandalous,” he added.

A planning application has been submitted to Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council for change of use from a public bar to five apartments with retention of the existing Off Sales.

However, such a change could be well into the future and the current bar leasee has no plans to call last orders.