Council will fight for a bus station

THE fight to secure a bus station and multi-storey car park for Banbridge will continue as the council reiterates its intention to meet with developers and other bodies to discuss the project.

Last week the Leader revealed that Roads Service had advised planners that a car park was not necessary when they were considering planning approval for the development at Bridgewater Park. Before the Tesco superstore near the Outlet was given the go-ahead last month, developers had pledged to provide funding for a car park and badly-needed bus station in the town centre.

Planning permission currently exists for a milti-storey car park at Townsend Street and a bus station at Kenlis Street but land has not been released by the Department of the Environment.

Now Banbridge District Council Chief Executive Liam Hannaway has said officers will continue to meet with developers to address the situation.

“The council is currently looking at what options are available,” Mr Hannaway told the Leader. “We will be meeting with the developer, Roads Service and Translink to see about getting a fully serviced bus station which would allow us to get the buses out of the town centre.

“We will be pushing the developer for funding to provide public transport and car park facilities within the town centre.” It is understood the matter was discussed during a council committee meeting last night (Monday).

A spokeswoman for Roads Service explained that the assessment provided to the Department by the developers did not identify the need for a multi-storey car park or bus station to support the development at Bridgewater Park.

“Since developers can only be required to provide improvements arising from and linked to their developments, Roads Service could not compel the developer to provide a multi-storey car-park or a bus station,” said the spokeswoman.

“In addition, Roads Service does not possess the necessary powers to make its lands available to a third party for a development such as a multi-storey car car-park.

“It is Roads Services’ understanding that planning permission currently exists for both a multi-storey car-park at Townsend Street and a bus station at Kenlis Street and so a developer may promote these developments at any time, subject to lands being made available by the Department or other third parties.”

Sinn Fein’s John O’Dowd said he had contacted his party colleague Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy to discuss the issue.

“Under the protocols and understandings currently in place it would appear that there are barriers in the way of Roads Service being in a position to accept the proposed offer from the developers,” said the Upper Bann Assembly candidate.

“These obstacles need to be analysed in detail and I contacted the Minister in order to see if a meeting could be arranged with Banbridge Council to establish how this proposed investment can be achieved.

“The development plans and the proposed contribution from Bridgewater need to be explored indepth and it is to that end that the council are seeking a meeting with Minister Murphy to discuss Road Service’s position in relation to the proposed development.

“Senior Council officials wish to discuss directly with the Minister the options open to both Central and Local Government for having the proposed financial contribution invested in Banbridge Town centre and I fully support the council in that venture.”

A spokesperson for the developer was unavailable for comment at the time of going to print.