Strabane 2000 was formed in 1997 by Strabane District Council and Strabane Chamber of Commerce and Industry coming together with the support of the then Department of Environment to examine the regeneration of the town centre.
The aim of this innovative economic and social regeneration initiative is to promote development, which will generate investment and employment for the benefit of both residents and investors in Strabane.
The planned Environmental Improvements, which will lead the regeneration, are estimated to cost approximately £5m and are based on the successful Laganside model of infrastructure led development. These developments are expected to generate further capital investment estimated at £14m, mainly from the private sector.
The Strabane 2000 Initiative complements Strabane District Council’s strategy on promoting economic and social development. The implementation of this Initiative also provides a new model of joined up Government in action with Government Departments, the District Council, the Education and Library Board and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, working together with the community to put in place the infrastructure for sustainable development in Strabane.
As the Annual Review 2004 document outlines, there has been steady progress that would not be possible without combined efforts from all those involved in Strabane 2000.
Strabane 2000 Annual Review 2004-5
This is the 4th Annual Review of the Strabane 2000 Initiative to be published and it gives a brief overview of the progress made to date and the plans for the future.
The Strabane 2000 Initiative complements Strabane District Council’s strategy on promoting economic and social development and has strengthened its links with Government and also with other towns. Some members of Strabane 2000 travelled to Kiltimagh, Co Mayo, in June to learn from the experiences Kiltimagh had gone through in achieving its physical regeneration of the town. I have also recently started working with Donegal Town Networking Initiative in an aim to promote and facilitate cross border networking and to share best practice.
There has also been a positive change in investor confidence with people investing their own money as a direct result of the visual change that is progressing throughout the town. During 2004 there has been approximately £3.25 million private investment spent within the town, this includes the large refurbishment at Linton & Robinson’s, the new apartment block and retail unit at Upper Main Street, Christy’s pub at Lower Main Street and the establishment of various other new businesses within the town.
The Strabane 2000 Initiative could not progress but for the pivotal role its funding partners play. Strabane 2000 is continually grateful for the support of Strabane District Council, Building Sustainable Prosperity, the Department for Social Development, the Department for Regional Development, International Fund for Ireland and the Department of Environment. Strabane 2000 also benefits greatly from the enthusiasm and dedication of its members and advisors.
Town Centre Reinvigoration Programme
Funding of £162,400 was awarded from the Department for Social Development under the Peace II Measure 2.11 – Area Based Regeneration – European Regional Development Fund to assist in reinvigorating Strabane town centre. This funding was allocated to the project called “Strabane – Looking Forward – The Need for Action”.
Funding of £437,000 was also received from the International Fund for Ireland for Environmental Improvements. As a result of the two strands of funding Strabane District Council appointed Ferguson McIlveen LLP as consultants for the design and implementation of the overall town centre reinvigoration programme.
Work has commenced on reinvigorating the town centre. The general streetscape has been enhanced by the planting of street trees within the town centre and at key entry points to the town. Detailed designs have been produced for the major environmental improvements to Main Street and the construction of a Pedestrian link between John Wesley Street and Castle Street. A fresh sense of place will emerge with the introduction of new street furniture throughout the town. This will also enhance the Kilkenny Limestone paving in Main Street and key pedestrian areas.
In keeping with this dressing new finger post signs are being erected throughout the town and bronze plaques denoting places of historic and cultural interest will be set into the paving.
Shop Front Improvement Scheme
Under the “Strabane – Looking Forward – The Need for Action” project a Shop Front Improvement Scheme was progressed. Grant aid of 50%, subject to a maximum grant of £10,000, was made available to shop owners in the Main Street and Castle Street areas. A total of 7 shop owners availed of this grant aid, and a ribbon cutting ceremony was held in April 2004 at the first shop front completed under this programme.
The visible signs of improvement within the town encouraged the individualism of other shop and business owners to renovate, rebuild and refurbish their premises. The process of change is ongoing and is positively enriching the ambience of the town. Contemporary and traditional shop fronts, some of which were assisted by the grant programme, sit side by side improving the visitor and retailing experience.
Ferguson McIlveen LLP, design consultants for Strabane, have prepared a detailed design for the construction of the pedestrian walkway between John Wesley Street and Castle Street, taking into consideration how new people flows can benefit retailing and movement within the town, making it easier for those who work, live and visit the area.
Sensitive use of lighting will make the walkway useable at all times and also focus investor thinking towards its adjacent lands.
It is anticipated that work will commence onsite during January/February 2005.
The Department for Regional Development (DRD) Roads Service appointed a consultant to carry out Local Transport studies for Omagh and Strabane in June 2004. The studies are being undertaken to meet the needs of the new West Tyrone Area Plan, being undertaken by the Department of Environment (DOE) Planning Service, as well as the Sub-Regional Transport Plan, being developed by DRD.
The Local Transport Study for Strabane will result in a transport blueprint for the urban area and will be guided by the Regional Transportation Strategy. A central objective of the study is to identify specific measures to address existing transport problems and future demand and associated land use changes in the town.
In November 2004 a traffic survey was carried out including automatic traffic counts, junction turning counts and journey time surveys.
Strabane 2000 will work in partnership with DRD Roads Service to ensure that the knowledge it has accumulated over recent years is assimilated into the blue print.
Lighting of Strabane Bridge
Strabane 2000 is working with Strabane Lifford Anglers Development Association in relation to lighting the old Strabane bridge. Funding of £30,000 has been secured through Strabane Local Strategy Partnership under Peace II Measure 3.1 – Local Economic Initiative for Developing the Social Economy for the lighting of the bridge.