Minister gives assurance on Magherafelt Town Centre master plan

Magherafelt Town Centre - scheduled to receive a revamp.mm03-200ar'
Magherafelt Town Centre - scheduled to receive a revamp.mm03-200ar'

The new Minister for Social Development has given assurances that the town centre master plan set out for Magherafelt will be taken forward by the new Mid-Ulster Council.

Responding to a question from Mid-Ulster DUP MLA Ian McCrea, Minister Mervyn Storey said he “wanted to make clear the objective of the master plan is carried out as originally envisaged.”

Mr McCrea asked the Minister to provide an update on the town centre master plan after it was launched in 2011.

Minister Storey replied: “To date, my Department has also progressed and completed a number of other activities set out in the master plan. For example, my Department supported the branding and marketing strategy, Wi-Fi and the smartphone app. Also with the shop front improvements theme, my Department funded a revitalisation scheme for Queen Street.”

Mr McCrea also asked the Minister what assurances can be given that the master plan will be taken forward after the new Mid-Ulster Council takes over in April next year.

Mr Storey said: “We have had some discussion about the transfer of powers, but I want to be absolutely sure that the objective of the master plan is carried out as originally envisaged.

“Obviously, we do not want to have a command and control situation, whereby Big Brother — my Department — oversees that. Under the reform of local government, the responsibility for the delivery of master plan initiatives will rest with the new Mid Ulster District Council.

“With councillors on the town centre forum, the council was fully involved in the preparation of the master plan and the current site. So my officials are working closely with the council to ensure that there is a smooth transfer and that the functions and all the related activities are carried out in a way that ensures progress and continuity.

The Minister continued: “My Department has committed funding of £90,000 to progress the scheme to detailed design and readiness for construction, and that work is due to be completed in March 2015. That is with particular reference to the Magherafelt public realm scheme, which was identified as a key regeneration initiative in the master plan.”