Thursday, 28 December 2017

Happy New Year for Cairn Wood

Following extensive consultation with users and other stakeholders Council has agreed in principle and subject to funding plus land transfer to Forest Service the Council will, via a Memorandum of Understanding, ensure that Cairn Wood continues to be available for the public to enjoy with plans being pursued to carry out further development of the facility working with the ‘Friends of Cairn Wood’ group and others to enhance the visitors experience.

Works undertaken will be done in close consultation with users and stakeholders respecting the sensitive nature of the site and are subject to funding plus receipt of relevant approvals. Improvements being considered include expansion of the Car Park on its existing site, improvement of signage, development of the path to Clandeboye Way plus the Cairngaver lookout, development of a wildlife meadow and a possible mountain bike trail and pump track in the separate cleared area.

Further details and consultation to follow when funding, approvals and handover plans enable matters to be progressed. I would like to commend everyone involved in the campaign to Save Cairn Wood for their determination and commitment to save this wonderful natural asset. Achievements to date are a positive testament to everyone involved who have proved that people power delivers.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Muir secures Council commitment to cleaner streets and get chewing gum problem unstuck!

Ards and North Down Council is to get tougher when it comes to removing chewing gum from pavements in popular areas across the borough.

At the latest Environment Committee meeting, steps to tackle the growing problem were outlined, after I previously requested various options be explored to get the problem 'unstuck'.

Chewing gum stuck to our streets is a growing problem and is becoming more and more noticeable at popular destinations across Ards and North Down following recent Public Realm works and new pavements laid. I'm delighted officers have taken my request seriously and provided substantial information on how we can take action against this horrible sight which is destroying the new granite pavements.

The Council's Environment Committee has agreed to consider including necessary financial resources for a chewing gum removal programme focused on the Public Realm works as part of the Rates setting process for 2018/19 and also include the issue as part of a new Litter Control Strategy, targeting hot spots and raising awareness.

We all have our part to play and while it is good to see the Council taking this issue seriously, prevention is always a better way. So I would appeal to all gum chewers to think before you discard used gum on the streets, but instead to always look for bins provided.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Muir secures Council support to get unstuck from gum

Hako Street Cleaning Machine purchased to
sweep and wash pavements but cannot
remove the chewing gum
I have secured the unanimous support of Ards and North Down Borough Council’s Environment Committee for his request that officers explore options and costs associated with a scheduled programme of gum removal from our new Public Realm pavements.

Whilst I welcome the investment of £70,000 in the new Hako street cleaning machine to sweep and wash our new Public Realm Pavements we urgently need a proper schedule of cleaning to remove the chewing gum that has appeared on the new pavements. We cannot be left to rely upon ad-hoc manual removal which is both time consuming, irregular and unreliable in terms of results.

After making such a significant investment in new Public Realm pavements it’s vital the Council gets unstuck from the current situation and finds ways to end the scourge of gum. I am therefore delighted that Councillors backed my motion and await the officers report on ways to address the matter.

Motion passed by Environment Committee on 6 September 2017: “That this Council requests that officers bring back a report on the options and associated costs associated with a scheduled programme of gum removal from new Public Realm pavements in relevant Towns across our Borough”. This is subject to ratification by Full Council on 27 September 2017.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Cultra Station renovations the rail thing, says Muir

Cultra Railway Station is on the express track back to life after significant renovations were unveiled for the first time last weekIt is 'fantastic' to see the much-loved location restored to its former glory. 

Photos of the newly restored Cultra Station House and associated properties look pretty amazing, bringing a once derelict building back to its former glory alongside a number of new high quality finish buildings on the adjoining site. It’s fantastic to see the  Station House ready for people to call home. I wish the eventual new home owners every success as they set out on what seems certain to be a express non-stop journey of railway nostalgia in modern surroundings

Since 2011, my colleague, former Councillor and now Chair of Holywood Conservation Group Larry Thompson, and I have worked hard to ensure rapidly deteriorating Cultra Station House didn't hit the buffers and was instead on the fast track to a full revival after being seized by NAMA. 

Cllr Andrew Muir and Mr Larry Thompson RIBA

Far too often we see historic buildings fall into a state of disrepair, but rather than let that happen to Cultra Station House, Alliance has consistently fought to see the arrival of a functioning site. That's now fully ready and promoting a positive sense of community spirit after many local people and organisations boarded the campaign, from Holywood Conservation Group to Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, a previous Environment Minister and even a Irish TD.

This is a success story. Cultra Station House has overcome health and safety concerns, the economic crash of 2011 and many other disappointments, to offer local people a truly wonderful place to live. I'm very proud to have been involved in this project from the start and would encourage everyone to look at what has been achieved.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Muir welcomes Greenway funding announcement

With Donaghadee to Newtownards Greenway
campaigner Louis O'Keefe
I welcome the recent announcement from Department for Infrastructure concerning funding for new Greenway from Comber to Newtownards.

As a passionate advocate for the Greenway plans for many years whilst also a keen runner and cyclist I feel that provision of Greenway routes have real potential to benefit residents and visitors alike providing sustainable transport solutions whilst also enabling us to lead more healthy lifestyles. The Comber Greenway and others across the British Isles are good examples of such whilst also helping boost the trade of local businesses.

Cycling along the North Down Coastal Path

I am therefore delighted to learn that Department for Infrastructure have agreed to provide funds to bring plans for Comber to Newtownards Greenway to the next stage, providing a safe and convenient route to Belfast from Newtownards via the already popular Comber Greenway.
Whilst slightly disappointed that no funding has been allocated for the wider Ards and North Down Greenway running from Holywood to Bangor, Donaghadee, Newtownards and then to Comber plus upgrade of the Clandeboye Way I am confident of commitment of officers to this scheme and potential of other funders plus further tranches of funding from DfI to make these great plans a reality.

DfI Announcement at

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Muir welcomes plans for historic Holywood Building

I welcome plans recently submitted by Lacuna Developments to save the historic building at 1 Stewart’s Place in Holywood after campaigning the save the building for the last number of years particularly from July last year when the building partially collapsed causing closure of nearby busy Bangor Road.

Following the partial collapse in July last year I had great fears Holywood was again on the verge of losing a real jewel in our built heritage crown but following relentless efforts I am delighted to see plans submitted which will see the building restored to it's original glory.

New development planned
 Working alongside Holywood Conservation Group a brighter future has been secured for the building which rightly drew much ire from Holywood traders and residents alike as a result of the traffic chaos the road closure caused.

Through dogged determination to get the road re-opened and a real passion for saving our built heritage I am delighted to have played a part in saving this listed building and commend Lacuna Developments for the courage shown in taking on this building and pursuing plans which will hopefully turn this site into another great Holywood landmark. I look forward to working with the new developer and seeing this project through to completion.

Listed in the 1970s, the building is the other part of the ‘Stewart’s Place pair’ and forms part of the Holywood Conservation Area, but unfortunately the property has been on the Built Heritage at Risk Northern Ireland Register for a number of years. It’s other half, No 3 Stewart’s Place was restored by Hearth Housing Association in 1993.

Stewart’s Place is thought to have been built around 1840 by William Lowry, with numbers one and three forming a pair of three-storey stucco houses with rounded corners and were named after the first post-master of Holywood Hugh Stewart

Story at