A list of investments in Lurgan worth millions has been published by the local council in response to complaints about ‘over-priced’ rates.
After a local businessman claimed Lurgan to be a ‘ghost town’ and questioned the value of high rates, Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council responded with a long list of recent investments.
In a statement, the council, which also pointed to a further £4m investment in the town, said it’s ambition and vision is to ‘grow the economy, stimulate investment, sustain and create new jobs and provide improved services for residents’.
“And the long established market town of Lurgan is a fantastic example of how this vision is fast becoming a reality,” said the Council.
“Millions of pounds of investment has been injected into Lurgan town centre over the last few years targeting all aspects of the town including public realm works, revitalisation programmes, shop front schemes, business engagement programmes, a weekly market and a wide range of high profile events.
“Funding has also been secured and used to improve the infrastructure of the town, provide signage, all year round planting, seating, Wi-Fi and lighting – all of which has been proven to significantly increase footfall.
“The recent reopening of Fulton’s Furniture shop and investment of £1 million reflects just how far Lurgan has come these last few years, as well as highlighting the town’s business potential.
“The most recent Lurgan Revitalisation Project saw the town receive £115,000 and this funding is currently being used to help reduce the level of dereliction and encourage the development of opportunities within the town.
“To date Council has held very successful craft fairs, Christmas Twilight markets, walking tours and a huge ‘Lurgan Live’ event as well as educating local businesses on how to promote themselves through social media. The next phase of this project will see a vacant property facelift scheme in August 2017, which will continue the transformation of the town, and a new information panel at Lurgan Train Station.
“Eighteen businesses have already availed of an exciting Shop Front Scheme which will re-open again soon, to be rolled out over the next three years, helping businesses to improve the external appearance of their premises. Add this to the £5million investment in public realm, the £100,000 Castle Lane Improvements Scheme, the £70,000 to ‘deep cleanse’ the town (and four others) and £80,000 on a Dereliction Intervention Scheme and Lurgan is without doubt looking like a brand new town, while still holding its historical market charm.
“Important partnership working between the Council and the Department for Communities has begun recently to help bring about an evening economy strategy, while extensive engagement with Lurgan retailers has taken place over the last six months to establish a successful Chamber of Commerce in Lurgan. Those and other non-domestic ratepayers throughout the borough saw modest changes to their bills for the year ahead following an agreed rise of 1.76 percent and this modest rise reflects Council’s commitment to continue to deliver in these priority areas.
“Recent Economic Development projects delivered to a very high standard include the Business Engagement Programme which saw many businesses learn how to increase their capacity and become more competitive through tailored support and mentoring.
“Lurgan businesses were also part of a £90,000 borough wide Creative Momentum scheme which helped businesses to develop creative and business skills and make important connections while a £250,000 Growth Driver Innovation Programme assisted local business owners use innovation to drive real and measurable growth results, new job creation and sustainability.
“Lurgan is very much an independently led retailer town which has a vast array of long established bespoke shops attracting visitors from far and wide. It has a low vacancy rate compared with other towns reflecting that it is still very much open for business.
“Council is also working on the Lurgan Townscape Heritage, which if successful, will see a further £4million to restore the conservation area in Lurgan.
“Add to this the success in attracting the All Ireland Pipe Bands spectacle for the 1st July, financial assistance provided to Lurgan Show each year, Christmas Switch on events, free parking at times during the festive season, financial assistance to the upcoming UEFA and the IFA Ladies football tournament that is taking place in the town in August and offering grants to voluntary associations, it is clear that Council invests heavily in all aspects of the town.
“Council is fast realising its potential, investing for the future and promoting its strengths locally, nationally and globally. Our award-winning borough is well positioned for a future of opportunity and prosperity and as an enviable, attractive and ideally-located place in which to live, to visit, to do business and invest in – and we are proud that Lurgan is part of this borough.”