Green light at last for £50m Bangor regeneration project

A £50 million regeneration project for Bangor has finally been given the green light after being held up in a Stormont department for over a year due to flooding concerns.

Local politicians have welcomed news that the investment plan for the Queen’s Parade area, approved by Ards and North Down Council in January 2021, would not be “called in” by the Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon, and would instead be returned to the council to finish the application process.

Councillors as well as local residents had become increasingly incensed at the hold-up coming from the Rivers Agency, which the department said had been carrying out an assessment on the planning application in relation to it falling within the flood inundation zone of Clandeboye Lake.

The lake is over two miles away, and land between the lake and the seafront had continued to see planning applications approved without intervention.

The plans for Bangor were approved more than a year ago by the council

The proposed scheme, developed by Bangor Marine Ltd, will see extensive work to a run-down area of the town. It will involve the building of new homes, a 66-bedroom hotel, a cinema and leisure facility, a public realm scheme, new streets, an events space and new cafes and restaurants.

The applicant said the project will create approximately 100 jobs per annum during construction, and 700 further jobs once it is “operational”.

The former B&M Bargains, Oxfam and Hospice shops on Main Street will be demolished, as well as other buildings on King Street, Southwell Road and Queen’s Parade.

An online petition calling for an end to the Stormont delay had gathered over 1,000 signatures.

Ms Mallon said: “After fully examining all matters involved I have concluded, in this instance, that this application does not raise issues of such importance that their impact is considered to extend to a sub-regional or regional level, and the circumstances of this case are not considered exceptional such as to render use of my power to ‘call in’ the application.”

Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Mark Brooks said: “I am absolutely delighted that Minister Mallon has ended this long-running impasse. Finally we have the green light for the Queen’s Parade development to proceed.

“I know there will be a collective cheer across the town as so many have been eagerly awaiting this positive news. I would like to thank all the residents and businesses that have taken time over recent weeks to write to the minister to lobby for this decision – community action has paid fantastic dividends. 

“The Queen’s Parade development, combined with the council’s own plans to regenerate Bangor Waterfront, offers the potential for more than £110m of investment ... over the next 10 years, delivering new attractions, accommodations and commercial opportunities. There is every reason to look forward with hope and excitement.”