Cookstown District Councillors welcomed the Minister for Regional Development, Mr Danny Kennedy, MLA, to the town last week, to discuss the long-awaited bypass.
In his opening address Council Chairman, Pearse McAleer, highlighted that the need for a bypass, formerly known as the Eastern Distributor, was first identified in the East Tyrone Area Plan (1974-1994), published in 1978.
A summary of the need for the bypass, Cookstown’s role as a key regional and multi-functional centre, the benefits of implementing the bypass and areas which need addressed to progress the A29 Cookstown bypass were presented by Adrian McCreesh, Acting Chief Executive.
He pointed out that Cookstown is a significant regional centre with an estimated population of approximately 13,000, with a sub-regional catchment population of 120,000. The forecast population growth, to 2021 is projected to be in the region of 18%. Over the past 10 years, the District was the third fastest growing district in Northern Ireland.
Since 2002 there has been £35 million commercial/retail investment, resulting in an additional 230,256 sq ft of retail space and 119,584 sq ft commercial space developed. This coupled with strong housing growth, a planned new school build along the main thoroughfare and construction of the new Community Safety College NI at Desertcreat, will exacerbate the current traffic congestion over the next five years.
Minister Kennedy, MLA gave an undertaking that his Department will review the current position of the A29 Cookstown Bypass and will respond to Council.