Minister launches plans for ‘new, vibrant, exciting’ Cookstown

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NELSON McCausland has launched the ‘new vision’ for Cookstown which will see enhanced retail and job opportunities, maximise the town centre and boost development.

The Social Development Minister unveiled the Town Centre Matsreplan at a special event in the Burnavon last Thursday. He was joined by local representatives and council officers.

The regeneration plans will focus on eight core objectives including the enhancement of the town centre; development of opportunity sites and maximised promotion and marketing of the town.

The DSD Minister said the plans will lead Cookstown towards a “new vibrant and exciting” future.

He said: “The Masterplan is intended to guide and assist developers from the public and private sectors over the next 15 years. I want to encourage investment and growth in our town centres, and the Masterplan is an essential starting point for that growth.”

Also speaking at the launch, Councillor Sean Clarke, Chairman of Cookstown District Council who welcomed Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland to Cookstown.

Councillor Clarke said: “The new Town Centre Masterplan will be a strategic document which will provide the basis for future decision making of key agencies responsible for urban regeneration and town centre management initiatives over the next 15 years.

“The continued regeneration of Cookstown town centre has been duly recognised by achieving the accolade of Ireland’s Best Kept Town 2011. This achievement publically recognised Cookstown as an area which continually ‘punches above its weight’ in improvements to the local environment and townscape. In addition, in the recently published Regional Development Strategy 2035 Cookstown has been identified as a main hub, offering the greatest potential for economic growth and provision of higher service sector roles. With an emphasis on manufacturing, construction and retail sectors the strategy recognises Cookstown’s importance of providing services to the wider rural hinterland,” he said.

“As a Council, we hope and expect that the commitment demonstrated by us, often providing the lead role in Town Centre Regeneration activity to other key towns throughout Northern Ireland, will be duly recognized and that further support programmes will be put in place to enable key towns such as Cookstown, to build upon our success to date, having achieved what we set out to do ten years ago, to become the ‘Retail Capital of Mid Ulster’.”

Chairman of Cookstown Town Centre Forum, Councillor John McNamee, highlighted a number of key achievements over the past ten years, speaheaded by Cookstown District Council.

He stated: “Through significant investment by Council and others, strong leadership and partnership with key stakeholders, a wide variety of initiatives have been effectively delivered with very positive outcomes. Recent initiatives delivered in our Town Centre include: The Town Centre Living Initiative Scheme; Burn Road Environmental Improvement Scheme, and the A29 Gateway Improvements.

Councillor McNamee added: “Town centre regeneration for the next 10 years will be delivered under the auspices of Cookstown Town Centre Masterplan which forms the blueprint for the future growth and investment in the town. It will build on the work and strong partnerships which have already been established through the delivery of Cookstown’s earlier Town Centre Regeneration Strategy (2002-2012).

“It provides the basis for the development and delivery of a range of innovative initiatives, which aim to stimulate further development and regeneration of our town centre.

“As a Council, we hope and expect that the commitment demonstrated by us, often giving the lead for Town Centre Regeneration activity to other key towns throughout Northern Ireland, will be duly recognized and that further support programmes will be put in place to enable key towns such as Cookstown, to build upon our success to date, having achieved what we set out to do ten years ago, to become the ‘Retail Capital of Mid Ulster’.

“We look forward to working with you and your Department in the forthcoming years to work in partnership to further develop and deliver of key regeneration initiatives for Cookstown Town Centre, to reaffirm our position as the ‘Retail Capital of Mid-Ulster’.”

The Masterplan was prepared for the Department for Social Development in partnership with Cookstown District Council and other stakeholders by a team of consultants from URS ScottWilson.