'final hurdle' | 

Bangor to wait another year for £50m seafront revamp

According to a number of sources the latest delays were partly due to soaring material costs.

What Bangor is proposed to look like after the revamp

Richard SullivanSunday World

Bangor’s £50 million seafront revamp is not expected to get under way for another 12 months.

The much needed development to upgrade a dilapidated Queen’s Parade finally passed it’s final hurdle in March but it has now emerged the first sod will not be turned until at least this time next year.

The scheme needed planning permission to be granted this week for a second time by Ards and North Down Borough Council this week after the Department of Infrastructure blocked the project amid bizarre fears of a flood risk.

The eyesore sea front has been an embarrassment to residents and business owners for decades, and with Bangor being granted city status earlier this year the need for building work to start became more urgent.

This week the council was keen to assure people the scheme is going ahead but that people were unlikely to see any physical signs of construction for at least 12 months.

According to a number of sources the latest delays were partly due to soaring material costs.

A spokesperson for the council told the Sunday World now that planning permission has been secured the contractor will “progress through a process of detailed design and securing contracts/ materials with the aim of being on site in Bangor within 12 months.

“We are at the final stage of this process as the Council, (developers) Bangor Marine and Department for Communities (as planning authority, developer and landowner) are currently finalising the legal agreement. When this is signed, the Council will issue the formal decision notice to Bangor Marine.”

Proposals for the redevelopment of Bangor seafront has been on the drawing board for more than 30 years.

Original seafront buildings were the subject of compulsory purchase orders and demolished.

But then work stopped. A large parcel of wasteland has been occupied by container-type units housing craft shops and artists. Their leases have been extended to 2024 raising further alarm over delays to building work.

This week local councilor Bill Keery that lack of work on site had reduced the council to a “laughing stock’’

Speaking to the County Down Spectator he said the council had been a number of potential start dates.

“It’s a little disappointing to hear that this project, that we’ve been working on for many years, won’t start until the latter end of next year,” he said.

“I was first elected in 1997 and we were talking about the Queen’s Parade development then. I’m the only guy who was on this committee and we’re still being told it’s a year away.”

He said successive delays had tarnished the local authority’s reputation.

“We’re a joke to people outside when keep giving them dates.”

As previously revealed by the Sunday World the developer Bangor Marine could have been on site 13 months ago were it not for the Department of Infrastructure putting a block on plans.

Acting on the findings of a Province-wide survey of reservoirs, the then Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon put a stay on the scheme because of concerns about the structural integrity of Clandeboye Lake on the nearby private Clandeboye Estate – three miles from the seafront.

The Department has now announced it will not be ``calling in’’ the planning permission and say the urgently required benefits to the city now far outweigh any residual fears of flooding.

Bangor councilor Alastair Cathcart said the appalling condition of Queen’s Parade had been a major factor in Bangor’s decline.

He said he now hoped it would be a symbol of it’s resurgence.

“The redevelopment of this site has been talked about since before I was born,” he said.

“I’d happily get behind the wheel of a digger to clear it myself, this has been a bugbear of us all for far too long.”

Once completed Bangor will have a new hotel, offices, apartments, a boutique cinema and public squares and pedestrian areas.

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