A public meeting to discuss how to help businesses in Dungiven and attract new projects into the town was packed to capacity, generating fresh momentum and hope, according to some of those who attended.
Paul Beattie, Head of Prosperity and Place at Causeway Coast and Glens said the meeting last Wednesday was “an initial meeting with the community to map out thoughts and ideas from locals”.
“I hope that Council will be able to assist the community to form working groups to look at issues beyond just physical infrastructure – social, educational, employment issues – and start to work up a programme which reflects all the regeneration needs of the town. Obviously, the town’s Main Street has suffered as a result of traffic through-put, but a future programme of work will help to identify more than just the bricks and mortar problems. Sixty-three people attended and it was a positive note to get started on a long term plan of work,” said Mr Beattie.
Colr. Sean McGlinchey said the meeting was “extremely positive”.
“It was a brilliant meeting and there were plenty of fresh ideas on how to help the town. Definitely things likes rates, parking, and incentives to attract new businesses have to be looked at, as well as encouraging people to support local businesses. It’s up to us now to get things moving,” said Colr. McGlinchey.
Businesswoman Noreen Coyle of J.J.Coyle said: “People were buzzing when they left the meeting. They had fresh hope. Definitely help with rates would be welcome, and a business advisor to complement what is already there. I don’t want to talk bypass, but traffic is a major problem for businesses. A one-way system and help with parking has to be looked at. We need long lasting projects, not just quick fixes.”
A spokesperson from Glenshane Community Development said: “There is a real momentum in the town at the moment and we are keen that the policymakers could assist us with our plans. GCD would be keen to have the threshold for town centre improvements reduced from towns with a population of 4,500 so that Dungiven would be eligible for this funding as everyone pays rates here too.
“We would also be keen that rates would be reviewed, perhaps to include a reduced rate or rate free period for businesses as we have found that this is stifling business development and job creation. We are delighted to see new businesses in the town, augmenting existing businesses and we would welcome additional car parking as the Main Street car park is full on most days.
“We would also be keen for Translink to develop a proper park and ride facility as we are the only town on the 212 route without this. Council said that £12,000 had been set aside previously to develop a masterplan for Dungiven so we hope that budget is still available as this would be the best starting point for any regeneration”.
Businesswoman Mags Donaghy from ‘Day Today’ hopes something positive can come out of the meeting.
”People did talk about the bypass, but there is no money for it. We need to entice new businesses into Dungiven. and encourage people to shop local as well,” said Ms Donaghy, “and we need the Christmas back in the middle of the town again, not up at the top in a car park. It should be part of thew town.”
New group ‘Project Fusion’ - Sheila Coyle, Aine Mc Nicholl, Finola Mc Nicholl, Ronan Kelly and Ciaran Farren - are enthusiastic about bringing change to Dungiven.
The group recognises the “abundance of enthusiastic and talented people who have a genuine interest in enhancing Dungiven”.
“We had our first meeting in early September, however we didn’t come up with a name until a few weeks ago. The name Project Fusion developed naturally as we talked through our ideas and aims of a collaborative approach.
“Now when we hear people refer to us as ‘Project Fusion’, we get a buzz, it is all very exciting. The name just somehow fits and explains what we are all about,” said a spokesperson.
“In developing Dungiven’s unique identity, through the use of strategic and effective branding, this will complement existing businesses and attract trade from within and outside the town.
“By creating an attractive and welcoming town, we want to encourage passersby to stop and spend time in Dungiven, utilising its facilities and embracing its unique characteristics. This will have a positive impact on the local economy and in turn will attract new start up businesses and encourage the growth of existing businesses.
“Project Fusion have had a very welcoming response from Causeway Coast and Glens Council. The individuals that we have been in contact with this far understand our vision in the need for a collaborative approach to Dungiven’s future.
“We hope for the continued support and commitment from the council in ensuring the success of Project Fusion.
“This support has continued as we delivered our talk to the stakeholders of Dungiven at the meeting in Dungiven Library. Following this meeting we have had an overwhelming response from the people of Dungiven. We have realised since we started Project Fusion that there is an abundance of enthusiastic and talented people who have a genuine interest in enhancing Dungiven.”
The spokesperson added: “We recognise there are many who are proud of where they are from however we need everyone in Dungiven to take more pride in their home town and be pro-active in bringing change.
“Project Fusion, along with other community groups, have a wide range of projects aimed at involving everyone in bettering their local community.”