HIGH Street is to lose the seven car parking bays in its central reservation, a council spokesperson has confirmed.
Traders have already expressed their concern over plans for a second phase of public realm works.
They are concerned High Street could lose up to 24 car parking spaces when the work is completed.
It’s understood both William Street and Edward Street will gain a small number of spaces.
However, local councillors and traders are working to minimise the loss of parking spaces.
Charles Gardiner, chair of Lurgan Chamber of Commerce, said it was important to “give shoppers what they want”.
“Parking is critical to the vibrancy of High Street,” he said.
“The Chamber lobbied on behalf of traders for a replacement footpath scheme which would have kept the parking spaces as they were.
“We will continue to actively represent the business community in negotiations over the proposed scheme.”
He continued: “Ultimately, the success of the town is down to giving shoppers what they require
“While a futuristic street scape may be pleasing to the eye, convenience is the key issue here.”
DUP councillor Carla Lockhart, who chairs the council’s development committee, said work is being done to minimise the loss of parking bays.
She said: “Local DUP representatives have been working hard to ensure that the investment in public realm works in Lurgan is delivered in such a way so as to ensure maximum benefit for the town.
“There is the potential in this significant investment to enhance Lurgan town centre.
“On the subject of car parking we have been actively engaged in making very strong representation to minimise any impact upon the availability of spaces. We are hopeful that this will prove to be successful.”
Sinn Fein councillor Johnny McGibbon said the news that William Street and Edward Street would gain parking spaces was “welcome.
“Phase Two of the Public Realm Scheme has to be welcomed, and I look forward to its completion, hopefully with the minimum possible disruption to the town,” he said.
“It is welcome news that the William Street and Edward Street areas will benefit from the scheme ,and I look forward to this much need investment in these streets.”
He continued: “There are still some issues to resolve in relation to car parking in the High Street area, but I am happy that we have managed already to minimise the loss of car parking in the upper end of the town.
“We all need now to work with officials, and ensure proper consultation with the traders as we progress the initiative, and do our utmost to ensure minimum losses in terms of car parking.”
A council spokesperson pointed out: “During recent meetings with the project team leading the second phase of public realm improvements in Lurgan Town Centre; elected members raised the issue of on-street car parking provision on behalf of local businesses.
“Council and DSD are fully committed to the next phase of the public realm works, which represents a further investment in the region of £2m and will secure a consistently high quality of public realm throughout Lurgan town centre. The views of local business people will continue to inform the project and as a direct result of recent meetings, the consultant team are currently exploring minor amendments to the scheme with a view to maximising on-street car parking throughout Lurgan Town Centre.
“It should be noted that the seven bays in the central ‘reservation’ on High Street will not be retained, primarily due to road safety concerns. The project team are also reviewing the accessibility of the several hundred off-street spaces in close proximity to the High Street area.
“Once the amended scheme has received the necessary statutory approvals, engagement with traders and other stakeholders will be arranged. It is hoped that this will take place during March 2012.”
It is anticipated that construction work will begin in the town in Autumn 2012 and be completed early summer 2013.