THE contractor set to carry out the public realm scheme for Banbridge will be Northstone (NI) Ltd.

The announcement was made on friday by Minister for Social Development, Nelson McCausland.

The £450,000 Rathfriland Street scheme will enhance a busy commercial area which links to the recently refurbished Solitude Park.

Proposals for the scheme include:

* Narrowing of the footpath to allow for provision of parking / loading bays on both sides of the road;New granite footpaths;

* Re-use of exiting granite kerbs;

* New lighting scheme to include extra lighting;

* Re-profiling and resurfacing of the carriageway; and

* Undergrounding of drainage from downpipes.

Mr McCausland said: “I am pleased to announce that a contractor has been appointed to deliver the public realm scheme in Rathfriland Street in Banbridge. Northstone (NI) Ltd has been tasked to deliver these important works in this busy commercial hub. It is envisaged that the completed works will greatly enhance this area of the town, in line with previous improvements carried out in the town centre.

“As Minister for Social Development I am aware of the current difficulties facing our towns and cities. Public realm improvements are valuable in this economic climate and besides creating employment; the outcome of this project will assist Banbridge as it strives to continue to develop as an enterprising, competitive and traditional market town.”

Banbridge District Council’s Director of Development, Catriona Regan said “We look forward to the work commencing on site so that Rathfriland Street will be of an equal standard to other parts of Banbridge.

“Rathfriland Street is an important part of the commercial core of our town centre and the Council is keen to see the area improved.

“By making the street more attractive and accessible to shoppers and by adding additional on-street car parking we would anticipate that footfall will be increased, directly benefitting the businesses which currently trade in the street and making the area more attractive for future investment. Rathfriland Street is an important connection in Banbridge; it links Solitude Park and some of the main town centre car parking with the commercial centre, this work will open up further development opportunities which could potentially benefit all of Banbridge.

“The Banbridge Development Strategy highlighted the area as a key priority for improvement and we are pleased that this project is now being delivered with the assistance from the Department for Social Development.”

The total cost of the Rathfriland Street Public Realm scheme is estimated at approximately £450,000. This includes £400,000 for the Department for Social Development and £50,000 form Banbridge District Council.