10 Aug 2022

Dungiven bypass: Draft plans to revamp town revealed but needs full Council backing say stakeholders

Dungiven Main Street
By Eamon Sweeney   The draft plan for the regeneration of Dungiven is ready to be submitted to Causeway Coast and Glens Borough council, the County Derry Post can reveal. It is understood the document will come before the Leisure and Development Committee of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council in August. The plan, seen by the County Derry Post, has been developed over a number of months involving local residents and organisations within the north Derry town, and it charts a list of proposals it is believed can be used to influence statutory bodies and service providers as well as being harnessed as a body of evidence when applying for funding. Those involved in the local consultation identified several areas as being in need of attention. These are broadly but primarily, roads, parking and traffic management in the town; sports and recreation; positioning and promoting Dungiven, business and enterprise and heritage and culture. The Northern Area Plan 2016 is the development plan for the four legacy Council Areas of Limavady, Ballymoney, Coleraine and Moyle that were amalgamated into newly formed local authorities after the implementation of the Review of Public Administration in 2015. With regard to Dungiven that plan states: “The town functions as an important retail service and employment centre for the surrounding rural hinterland, providing a comprehensive of educational, health, commercial, social, community and recreational facilities.” And, at the heart of the draft plan is the issue of the issue of the A6 Dungiven Bypass. The draft plan states: “A new bypass has been recommended by Transport NI for Dungiven to the south of the town. Transport NI has recommended that the Dungiven bypass should be taken forward at an early stage to provide improved journeys for strategic traffic through overtaking opportunities. “The bypass will relieve the centre of Dungiven of heavy traffic thus reducing pollution levels to the communities along the route. “Main Street, Dungiven is the only area where air quality is presently monitored in the Borough due to the high nitrogen dioxide levels along it. The Department for Infrastructure has now appointed a contractor to construct the the A6 Dungiven to Drumahoe Dualling Scheme with the work to begin as soon as possible. The 25.5 kilometre scheme represents an investment in the region of £220 million and the work is likely to take four years.” The plan to be put before Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council takes its socio-economic analysis on figures laid down in the 2011 Census along with 2016 statistics on mid-term population estimates formulated by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. These figures reveal that the population of Dungiven is just over 3,200, but that the poulation of the town decreased by almost 5% since the 2001 Census. Dungiven also falls within the top 17% of the most deprived areas in Northern Ireland, whilst the town, in terms of both Income and Employment Deprivation rank within the top 12% most deprived areas. The percentage of people in the town with either low or no qualifications stood at 45% in 2011, almost double the Northern Ireland average. The 2011 Census data also shows that nearly 60% of adults between the ages of 16-74 are economically active-lower than the Northern Ireland average of 66.22%. Nearly 22% of the local population have a liniting long-term illness, health problems or disability. Almost a quarter of Dungiven’s population is under 16 which is about 5% higher in comparison of the rest of the Northern Ireland average, however just under 11% of the population is over 65-approximately 5% lower than the Northern Ireland average. In terms of religious denomination, nearly 96% of the resident population either belong to or were brought up in the Catholic religion with just under 4% belonging to the Protestant faith. Future initiatives and projects for Dungiven included in the draft plan include a park and ride carparking scheme; more investment and development of the Environmental Garden and Play Park; the development of signage to important sites in the area; the completion of a public realm scheme including an enhancement of footpaths and walking trails linking back to Dungiven Main Street; additional investment in Kevin Lynch Hurling Club’s facilities; the development of additional bed space for visitors; the development of a sculpture trail and or murals and interpretative signage; develop a scheme for Groogan’s Shop (Main Street) and the possible extension of St Patrick’s College onto the site of the former Sports Pavillion. Added to that, the draft plan also says that Dungiven Priory is a key site in the area and needs to be developed to its full potential. It also says that there is a need to develop additional small workspace units as the current provision is full. Also, the plan highlights the need to develop coach tours and parking for those coaches adjacent to the Main Street plus cycle stands and a turning bay for Ulster Bus vehicles. The examination of traffic flow at Owenbeg GAA grounds to facilitate larger matches, enhanced facilities for Dungiven Celtic FC, the local boxing club and seeking technical assistance for an eventual masterplan for Dungiven are also included in the draft plan. It is estimated that the cost of developing a masterplan will cost in the region of £30,000 and will be sought from, amongst others, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council. And, all input to the plan will be formulated from those in the area with a stake in public, private and community interests. One of the next steps to be taken is the formation of a Steering Committee which will meet regularly with the Council to monitor the progress of the plan itself. On this point the draft plan says: “As groups research and investigate the best way forward in each project area, the full financial implications will become known and applications for funding and fund-raising activities will take place. “It is recognised that Council will not have have sufficient funds to carry out all the activities in this plan and other sources of funding will be required.” Sinn Fein Councillor for Dungiven, Sean McGlinchey says that above and beyond the draft plan for revitalising the town he will be seeking strong assurances from Council officers that capital funding will be made available to back the overall project. Speaking to the County Derry Post he said: “My priority is gaining public realm money for the centre of the town for footpaths, lighting and signage. “This capital funding needs to be directed also towards re-zoning land for business development and social housing.” Asked if he is confident that the financial backing will come from Council, he continued: “Portrush was given major funding for the shorefront and Bushmills has recently received public realm money too. Limavady too, which is great to see, has been given monetary backing, but Dungiven has received no major capital money for around 20 years. “The rengeneration of the town needs to start from the back of the castle and Rosses Mill right through the area. “This is a long-term plan and it’s not going to happen overnight. We won’t get everything on the list but another priority of mine, and it’s an equality issue is proper facilities in Dungiven for women’s football and camogie. My aim as a councillor is to get proper playing areas and changing rooms. “Look at the wider North West. Maghera has a hotel in the town centre. In Dungiven we do not have enough places for visitors to stay. There is nothing here. Ulster Bank closed last week and had the premises stripped out within an hour. The Post Office has gone too. “There has to be major capital money brought into Dungiven,” he said. Meanwhile, Mairead McCormack, manager of Glenshane Community Development based at Dungiven’s Main Street said her organisation backs the draft plan to revamp the town. In a statement to the County Derry Post she said: “Glenshane Community Development welcome the Village plan which has been produced for Dungiven by Venture I on behalf of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council. We have worked closely with Venture, the Council, local businesses and the community to develop an all encompassing robust plan which will meet the current and future needs of Dungiven. “The plan for Dungiven is one of 22 plans commissioned by the Council and we would be anxious to ensure that as the largest village in the Borough, we are prioritised with regard to seeing this plan implemented. For far too long, Dungiven has not received the investment which it is entitled too. The town has an air pollution problem, a severe lack of housing, no economic development land zoned, no car parking spaces as the existing car parks are always full and just last week, the last bank in the town closed. “The last public realm project undertaken in the town was twenty years ago and was undertaken by Glenshane Community Development Limited whilst other towns and villages are being improved by the Council and the Department for Social Development every five years. “The Castle Environmental Park which Glenshane Community Development created twenty five years ago and which the Council have responsibility for maintaining is neglected unlike other Parks in the Council area and Banagher Glen which has the potential for major tourism exploitation doesn’t even have toilet facilities, never mind tourist information insitu. These are quick fix projects which I hope the Council will target immediately as not only will this attract tourists into the area but also increase recreational activities for the local community. “We appreciate the Council undertaking this piece of work, however it is essential that the Council allocate resources to ensure that the plan is implemented and that they deliver for the ratepayers of Dungiven.”      

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