A Sinn Fein councillor is calling for a virtual streetscape initiative used in Dungannon to be adopted in Dungiven to give the town’s Main Street a much-needed facelift.
Anne Brolly was “so impressed” by the project on Perry Street in Dungannon, she wants Limavady Borough Council to do the same in the busy North Derry town.
Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council launched the virtual retail high street project transforming 13 run-down properties into colourful book shops, gift shops, galleries, and restaurants through a variety of virtual window graphics; the aim being to transform the visual appearance of the properties and to generate private sector interest in the site. The pilot project was developed and funded by the Council in partnership with Dungannon Regeneration Partnership (DRP), Dungannon Enterprise Centre and the Department for Social Development (DSD) in response to the problem of dereliction and under-investment in this area of the town centre.
“What I saw was absolutely brilliant,” said Sinn Fein Colr. Brolly. “We have the City of Culture in Derry in 2013 and the amount of people that will be travelling through Dungiven, well I mean it is the main thoroughfare and is the only way to get to Belfast.”
After Colr. Brolly requested more information on the project, Council’s Director of Development Services, Valerie Richmond told members on Tuesday the project in Dungannon cost around £19,000.
When councillors were asked for their thoughts, SDLP Colr. Gerry Mullan said: “My inital reaction is that it could be a very expensive sticking plaster to a very serious problem. It looks unnatural and it doesn’t take away from the decrepit buildings. I don’t know if I would be happy to spend money on this. A derelict building is a derelict building and I don’t think I would support this.”
Chair, SDLP Colr. Michael Coyle reminded members it was just a “sounding board” exercise, that “Colr. Brolly has given us food for thought”. He pointed out already, with the upcoming Ulster Fleadh in Dungiven some buildings had been revamped, adding there were lots of hot spots in the borough that needed attention.
Sinn Fein’s Brenda Chivers thought the Virtual Street project in Dungannon looked great and there was no harm in investigating how much it would cost if it were to be adopted.
Colr. Brolly acknowledged that even if it was a temporary measure it would be money “well spent”.
“It mightn’t even cost as much as £19,000 so I think it is worthwhile to look into it; even if it only lasted three or four years. I think in light of what is going to be happening the Main Street in Dungiven, especially the lower end, needs a facelift, even if it is only temporary,” she said, adding: “Things are looking up in Dungiven. We have the new library among other things. This type of project would put confidence into the town and give us more civic pride and, it would hearten us all.”