Regeneration and development of the town are the Council’s number one priority as plans are reviewed to guide how Portadown will develop and thrive over the next 20 years.
Dramatic improvements for the town are being set out in a regeneration strategy that will be pursued by the Department for Social Development and the council.
The Craigavon Integrated Development Framework (CIDF) which is currently under review is a guide to how the three town centres of Portadown, Central Craigavon and Lurgan will develop over the next 20 years and sets out a strategy for regeneration.
Recommendations for Portadown centre include redeveloping keysites. A major riverside mixed use scheme, consisting of housing, offices, hospitality, hotel, retail, and service sector expansion on existing car parks is being considered. Promotion of empty offices to public sector is another aim to create innovative economic opportunities.
Plans are under consideration to create an enriched town centre experience by reinvigorating opportunity sites and optimising the ‘evening economy’ and cultural facilities.
Environmental improvements will include developing a riverside green walkway to improve community, leisure and recreation services.
Physical improvements to vastly improve links across the Northway to the railway station are also under review.
A public transport strategy to connect the three town centres of Portadown, Craigavon and Lurgan is part of the CIDF strategy which contains an overarching strategy for transport and access and identifies various issues which should be addressed to create sustainable transport patterns.
Other development sites were identified at lands at Castle street, the car park to the rear of Magowan West shopping centre, the car park to the rear of High Street Mall, Shillington Street car park and council depot, lands abutting Bridge Street/Bridge Street south, car parks to the west of Meadow Lane, Ulster Carpets site and the RA Irwin & Co factory site.
Speaking about the local area plan, a spokesperson for the council, said: “The Borough of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon is the second largest area within Northern Ireland and Council is reviewing all opportunities that have been identified by the legacy Councils to further contribute to the development and growth of all town centres.
“The exciting plans for Portadown have already began through the Public Realm works which has seen the investment of millions of pounds to transform the town into a first class urban centre. Referring to the CIDF strategy the spokesperson said: “The Council is currently undertaking a review of the Craigavon Integrated Development Framework and as part of this will be further exploring regeneration opportunities for the future.
“This review will be an important contribution to the wider Local Area Plan process, which is at a very early stage. Council looks forward to continuing the further development of Portadown Town Centre to enhance all aspects of the town including the redevelopment of key sites and improved linkages to ensure it is a leading retail and hospitality hub in Northern Ireland”, the spokesperson concluded.
The CIDF does not make specific reference to tourism but focuses on achieving an integrated vision for the three town centres to attract investment fitting for the fourth largest urban area in Northern Ireland, and acknowledging that Tourism is recognised as the world’s fastest growing industry, encompassing a wide range of activities including travel and visits for business, professional and domestic puropses as well as holidays and recreation.
In 2013, tourism contributed 6.6% to the Northern Ireland economy equating to £722.1 million and supporting 67,282 jobs across the province. (NISRA 2014). While the council has placed the regeneration and development of the area as it’s number one priority the message of the Regeneration and Development Strategy (R&DS) for Armagh, Banbridge and Craivon Council, which was launched in 2015, is there is a significant opportunity to develop tourism within the Council area along with the regeneration.
The aim is to have three complementary and successful centres, each having a distinct role and identity, and benefitting from a greatly enhanced environment and range of facilities. Between the three centres there will be the complete range of commercial, social, cultural and community activities.
The CIDF aims to project this vision through scores of individual actions, projects and development schemes that will strengthen each individual centre and contribute to the overall regeneration of the area.
Close partnership working is required between public bodies and the private sector (Craigavon Integrated Regeneration partnership) to show that guided by the CIDF proposals the town centres can reach their full potential.