A NEW draft vision for Cookstown for the next 15 years was launched this week and the public are being asked for their input.
Plans to promote a cafe culture with licensed pavement cafes, a new bypass and greater focus on local business are just some of the ideas to boost Cookstown over the next decade and beyond.
Launched by Department of Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland, the draft plan has been drawn up by Cookstown District Council and Cookstown Town Centre Forum.
One of the primary focuses is to enhance the town centre and shops.
Proposals include the internal restructuring of shop units offering flexible space, a shop improvement scheme and retail performance programmes.
Improved accessibility and parking is also addressed as are proposals to revitalise Molesworth Street, Orritor Street and Coagh Street.
Plans are also afoot to reinvigorate the town’s markets, both indoor and outdoor.
The draft plan aims to seek more direct government funding to develop the town centre and its retail reputation.
Several ‘Opportunity Sites’ have been identified a number of which have already gained full planning approval. Some large sites for bigger multiple retailers and independent traders as well as other sites which have retail potential and could compliment the town centre core.
And the plan looks at the possibility of a town centre enterprise or business park.
Another major target is to maximise the promotion and marketing of Cookstown including sharing financial resources among key stakeholders to do this.
A third target is to improve the townscape by revitalising vacant properties, shop front schemes and enhancing town centre lighting.
Another target is to have better accessibility pushing for the bypass, a better parking strategy and public transport as well as cycle provision.
Plans include ideas to increase footfall and the vitality of the town centre by securing and delivering signature town centre events.
Promoting a thriving nightlife is also an aim within the draft plan.
Another goal is to exploit the potential of Desertcreat College for the town.
Target six is to increase job opportunities and improve the quality of life for citizens of Cookstown including promoting a high tech open access telecommunications structure with superfast broadband and wireless and mobile technologies reinforcing Cookstown’s position as a sub regional centre.
Target seven is to expand and fully utilise the town centre in the future including options to expand Cookstown and its economic significance.
Cookstown’s appointment as a sub regional hub is also to be exploited if the new draft plan is implemented.
Mr McCausland said: “The draft masterplan is a boost for Cookstown town centre. The proposals show innovative and exciting ideas to help build and secure continuing investment in the town. The proposals will also provide a realistic vision of how this historic market town can make best use of its assets and secure ongoing success and prosperity.
“A revitalised town centre will help underline Cookstown’s role as the ‘Retail Capital of Mid Ulster’.
Chairman of Cookstown Council, Sean Clarke highlighted the town’s development over the past ten years on which the plan would lay its foundations.
“Cookstown District Council has invested a huge amount of ratepayers money in the regeneration of our town over the last decade. It is has been one of our key economic development priorities and much of that investment has been in partnership with the DSD and other statutory bodies.
Cookstown District Council’s Director of Development Adrian McCreesh said: “This is a prime opportunity for the business community and residents of Cookstown to have their say on the future development and reinvigoration of Cookstown.
“Everyone’s input is valuable as this strategic document will act as a catalyst towards the future development of Cookstown Town Centre,” he said.
The plans will be on display until Friday July 15 at the Burnavon Arts and Cultural Centre.
Members of the public are invited to view the proposals and provide feedback.