|Land type||Building Site , Commercial Land , Industrial Land|
|Planning||No Planning Permission|
Excellent Town Centre Site With Several Options of Development Opportunity sitting on c1.5acres.
Downpatrick is a large town in Co Down located 21 miles to the south of Belfast. Downpatrick area has currently shown to have a population of 19,817 according to the 2011 Census, although it is likely to have increased in recent years. Today it is the county town of Down and the joint headquarters of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.
It is estimated that between 2009 and 2014 over £150m of public sector investment was spent in the town. Furthermore, at the date of writing, there are plans for a further £50m of investment. The significant capital that has been invested thus far, and is proposed going forward, has been wisely spent on key social infrastructural components of health, education, art and leisure and the town centre environment.
The public sector is an important employer in the area and recently there has been public investment in accommodation for these agencies. The former Downshire Hospital site, which includes a grade B1 listed former psychiatric hospital built in 1883, has been re-developed as the Downshire Estate public sector campus.
Down District Council (DDC) moved to a redeveloped and extended section of the former Downshire Hospital in October 2012. This move was taken ahead of the review of public administration which merged DDC with Newry and Mourne Council in 2014 creating Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. Shortly after DDC took up residence, the local office of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive also moved on campus. Since then these agencies have been joined on the Downshire Estate by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (Fisheries Division), the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS). To date the total public sector investment in the Downshire Estate is estimated at over £30m.
In addition the public sector are also investing in their town centre accommodation on Market Street. Rathkeltair House has just benefited from a £3.36m refurbishment to provide a multi-purpose government facility that will include employment and benefit services.
Health / Well being
In June 2009 the £64m purpose built Downe Hospital on the Ardglass Road was opened replacing the former Downe Hospital which currently lies vacant. The new hospital includes a dedicated mental health and dementia suite, inpatient and day procedures units and maternity provision.
In 2011 the £4.2m Ballymote Sports and Wellbeing Centre on the Killough Road was officially opened. This high quality sports facility includes a dedicated centre for excellence for boxing, a four court badminton facility, championship netball court, state of the art fitness suite and youth facility.
Work commenced in 2016 on construction of a £15m replacement leisure centre on Market Street. The new centre will include a swimming pool, four court hall, squash court, fitness suite, and a multi-purpose spa and relaxation area. This new facility is due to open in the autumn of 2017.
The town has benefited from substantial investment in its educational facilities in recent years. In November 2011 St Patrick’s Grammar took possession of their new state of art £16m school, whilst just a few months earlier in June 2011 the South Eastern Regional College took possession of their new £24m campus on Market Street. Later this year construction of a new £20m school to replace the existing Down High is due to commence.
Art and leisure
In conjunction with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, DDC invested £1.4m in 2011 redeveloping the Down Arts Centre. This provided a multi-functional centre with art gallery, upgraded auditorium, bespoke workshop space, café and bar, retail space and a book zone to showcase local literature. It is estimated that the new centre has seen an increase in visitor numbers from 32,000 to 58,000 per annum.
In 2015 Down County Museum was extended at a cost of £500,000. The centrepiece of the new extension is the 1,100 year old Downpatrick High Cross which was moved to the museum from outside the east end of Down Cathedral. The extension project also encompasses a new gallery to display some of the key objects from the Museum’s large collection of farming and maritime artefacts, a new gallery which focuses on the history of the Gaol of Down and a new tearoom boasting impressive panoramic views over The Quoile river and the county Down countryside.
Town centre environment
In an effort to assist retailers in capturing as much retail spend as possible, and prevent further retail leakage to the surrounding areas, the main retail core of the town centre has also received capital investment. In 2011 the Downpatrick Public Town Realm scheme was launched. This £3.2m regeneration project has created a high quality, modern urban landscape which centred on the redevelopment of the public square at the front of the St Patrick’s Heritage Centre.
With the relocation of the PSNI to Downshire Estate, the iconic blast walls surrounding the former station at Irish Street have been removed and the road widened significantly, opening up what was once a bottle neck for traffic at peak periods. There are further proposals to widen Fountain Street and upgrade the junction at Collins Corner. These proposals will undoubtedly improve road safety and traffic flow, and ultimately improving accessibility to the town centre which can only be good news for local businesses, retailers and shoppers alike.
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