£1million spent but hurdles remain in Dromore

MORE than £1million of public money has so far been ploughed into Dromore town centre, but ongoing regeneration efforts are being hobbled by property-owners’ inability to rebuild on gap sites and so boost retail.

Obstacles to progress include the worst recession in decades, plummeting property values, an exodus of shoppers and trouble securing bank loans to make up funding shortfalls.

These were among the messages to emerge this week after one Dromore man accused local politicians of not doing enough to turn around the town’s flagging fortunes

The man, who did not want to be named, said politicians at all levels should be ashamed, and he accused them of failing to deliver on election pledges.

“At the moment,” he added, “Dromore Square is a disgrace, with old, derelict buildings and empty spaces overgrown with weeds.

“Dromore looks like it’s a depressed, run-down, Third World village or town.”

There came a robust response, with the DUP pledging to continue working with statutory agencies and property-owners to encourage regeneration in Dromore and in particular the Market Square area.

Though themselves “frustrated at the pace of developments”, it was not for want of effort on their part, they said, to help achieve a positive outcome for Dromore.

Local Ulster Unionists, meanwhile, insisted councillors, and the council itself - though limited in its influence – made strenuous and demonstrable efforts to secure improvements for Dromore.

In related news, at a recent meeting of Banbridge District Council’s Leisure and Development Committee, Chief Executive Liam Hannaway undertook to write to the Minister of Social Development to ask that he raise with the banks concerned the inability of some local property-owners to secure funding in respect of the Living Over the Shop project.

In a letter to the council, local architect Mr. R. E. Quinn said the owners of a number of specified properties in Market Square and Church Street were unable to secure the funding shortfall and, as the LOTS projects were essential to the continued regeneration of Dromore town centre, they had asked that the council contact the minister with a view to unlocking “a log-jam which is contributing to the continuing ‘urban blight’ in Dromore”.