New realm works, same old story

Public Realm work underway in Market Street. INLM4612-138gc
Public Realm work underway in Market Street. INLM4612-138gc

WITH the second phase of Lurgan public realm works under way, locals have hit out at what many feel is an unnecessary disruption to the town.

The £1.95 million scheme is due to be carried out by contractors McLaughlin and Harvey until the end of November, before they pause for the month of December to allow traders and shoppers to make the most of the busy Christmas period.

Work starts again during the second week of January and the end result will be a resurfacing of footways as well as new street furniture and trees in High Street, Market Street and both Edward Street and William Street, where there will also be new lighting.

Work has begun on two sections of footpath, at High Street between Castle Lane and Windsor Avenue and another section close to Malcolm Road.

High Street is down to a single lane of traffic on the northbound side of the town and shops continue to be accessible by wooden walkways.

The Mail used its Facebook page as a forum to gauge the reaction to Phase II of the public realm. While many felt parking in the town should be prioritised over landscaping, there were others who welcomed the investment. Here’s a selection of your comments.

Jamie Serplus commented: “A pedestrian is going to get killed outside the old Oriental Chinese at the top of the town. Every morning the pedestrian man-made walkway is closed off forcing the pedestrian onto the busy road and oncoming traffic. A simple warning at the lights at top of Malcolm road to ‘cross now’ would stop this.”

Lisa Macgillivray White said: “There was an entire long wet summer, with lessened traffic, and lower numbers of shoppers, and they wait until now. Absolutely beggars belief.”

Julie-Anne Myers said: “There was nothing wrong with the original town layout where you were actually able to park. I don’t even shop in the town now as there’s no decent shops and more to the point too much trouble parking.”

David Harvey wrote: “Need some decent shops and convenient parking to attract people back to the town, not fancy (and very expensive) window dressing.”

Rach McCready said: “The roadworks are an absolute nightmare, not to mention the lack of available car parking spaces. That concrete podium (plaza) in the middle of the town is just an absolute waste of good parking spaces and don’t get me started on the mess they have made of Edward Street.”

Stevie Turner commented: “Anything that will help improve the general appearance of our town can only be a good thing.”

Alan Doak said: “First may I say there are some great independent shops in Lurgan with a long history of serving the community, Secondly there are several large free car parks in the centre of Lurgan and at least we are receiving some investment albeit at the wrong time and place. Could I encourage everyone who lives and works in Lurgan to support our local business! Together we can ensure that the town won’t die.”

Julia Cully said: “The town traders are their own worst enemies, half of them don’t open until 9.30/10 o’clock, when you drop the kids off at school you don’t want to go home again and wait for the shops to open, that’s why a lot of people head over to the shopping centres.”

Trader Ben Nelson said: “I started a coffee shop business in Lurgan three years ago, and it has grown successfully over that time. I was debt free inside six months, and enjoyed two foreign holidays this year alone. I work long hours and work very hard along with my staff. I am not boasting or bragging, I am merely painting a rosier and more rounded picture amidst the negativity. Can I be the first person on this post to say THANK YOU to the council for spending some of my rates money on ME. I can’t wait for the new facelift to be finished, and for the new footpaths, lamppost and parking spaces to be completed.

For all those haters who complain about Lurgan’s parking, selection of shops, appearance, etc, maybe you should come back when it’s finish and take another look.... it’s not all bad!”

Colin King said: “If the footpath is made wider then traffic will be even worse than now, down to one lane. Hopefully it’s not the same people who did the traffic light junction in Edward Street.”

Roisin Bunting said: “It’s nice to see the town be improved a bit in looks but they could have done this a lot cheaper. The town has some great shops that people don’t realise are down side streets. There are several free car parks but they are all down hills - this is no good when a person has trouble walking. Maybe if the council had chosen a cheaper renovation option then lowered rates to entice more businesses into town. Parking is a problem and drivers who stop where they like need to be fined to stop them doing this again.”