Local traders have had their say on the shape of the latest phase of the town’s Public Realm works in a meeting organised by Lurgan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The meeting was well attended by the businesses that will be affected by Phase III of the works. Consultants gave a clear presentation of the proposed works, and opened the floor for questions.
Proposed options for Church walk, involving the creation of a second footpath, were rejected by all the traders as unacceptable and not in the best interests of the town. Cllr Joe Nelson stated he had lobbied with other Councillors after speaking with businesses and residents in the area. The clear message sent out was to retain the road width as much as possible, and only refurbish and widen the existing footpath to facilitate pedestrians.
Another contentious street was Union Street, where it was proposed to add additional car parking where there is currently a single yellow line.
The Committee suggested street representatives for each of the streets who could meet with the Chamber Committee, Contractor, and Richard Griffin - Council consultant - on a regular basis to overcome any issues during the work. This format worked successfully in Phase II of the public realm.
While the mood of the meeting was said to be ‘militant’, a consensus of opinion was reached and the consultants were in no doubt about the views of traders present.
Richard Griffin, Development Manager at the Council, said: “We had a very constructive and helpful engagement. A couple of specific issues were raised, mainly surrounding Church Walk, and we are actively looking at those. Any changes to the plans that are proposed will have to be approved by Roads Service.”
He said there is a process to go through, but stressed that the consultations were a genuine effort and there was still the opportunity to make changes based on those discussions.
On the issue of co-ordination with works being undertaken on sewer main replenishment in the town, Mr Griffin said:
“We have had discussions with all utility operators so that planned work can be programmed in and we can endeavour to find efficiencies.”
He said that, while there was no overlap in the streets involved, efforts were still being made to minimise disruption and any possible issues that develop can be addressed.
This latest phase of work will include Church Walk, Castle Lane, Union Street, Carnegie Street and Watson’s Lane and will see the resurfacing of footways with asphalt and granite kerbs, the installation of street furniture, landscaping, tree planting, new lighting as well as undergrounding of unsightly overhead cables.
Work is due to start in October and will be phased to minimise disruption. Pedestrian access will always be maintained, as will access to the premises on the affected streets throughout the works. Work will take a break in December to allow for Christmas shopping in the town.
Although the Chamber of Commerce has been inactive for a number of years, it is evident that the newly reformed Chamber has an active and prominent role to play in representing the business community in Lurgan.