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Albert Basin Park Group Meet Consultancy Firm

With the Albert Basin Park project being one of the most important issues locally, the Newry 2020 group met with the consultancy firm tasked with the project.

A spokesperson for Newry 2020 said:

“Yesterday Newry 2020, along with other members of the Stakeholder Forum, were presented with an update on the project by consultancy firm TetraTech. The presentation focused on three main aspects: (1) an outline design, (2) outline costs and (3) a programme for delivery.”

“There was a lot of detail to absorb and the council have still not shared the full reports with us, but we have compiled a brief response below.”

“Firstly, the fact that this work has been done at all shows that there is at least some attempt within council to move things forward. At the same time, there still appears to be significant resistance from certain quarters. That resistance needs to be addressed head-on if the park is to be delivered on time as promised over three years ago.”

“(1) DESIGN: It is great that we finally have a design, and the proposal has some very positive points, but it is also missing key elements, for example a marina and an iconic swing bridge over the canal. We were promised a “world class park” and that it what the council has to deliver – nothing less will do.

(2) COST: The cost of the park has been estimated at £30m. We have compared this budget and with other park projects, and we believe this figure is completely unrealistic. For example, an 85 acre park on a brownfield site in Scotland is currently being delivered for £6m. The consultants were unable to explain their costs at the presentation, but the chair has agreed that a written breakdown should be made available. However, with external funding, even a worst-case-scenario figure should mean that the cost to the ratepayer should be only a few million pounds.

(3) TIMELINE: The proposed timeline would take 8-9 years to reach completion. In our view this is simply unacceptable, and a breach of the council’s promises. The good news is that the consultants agreed that the project could be delivered much more quickly if necessary, and various alternative approaches were discussed at the meeting. We made it clear that the proposed timeline threatens to fundamentally undermine the project and needs to be urgently revised.
The bottom line is this: Newry is the only city in Ireland without a park, and this is having a massively detrimental effect on our families, children and older people, especially post-Covid.”

“We were promised that phase one of a “world class park” would be delivered by May 2023. Yesterday the project took a significant step forward, but our message to elected representatives that they MUST keep their word and deliver phase one in the next two years.”

ENDS

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