Sunday, 11 February 2018

Council backs proposals to grasp potential of Kinnegar Army Base

Significant Kinnegar Logistics Base site
Courtesty of Google Maps
I have called for plans to be put in place to realise the full potential of Kinnegar Logistics Base following its planned closure in 2022.

I made the proposal at Ards and North Down Borough Council’s Regeneration and Development Committee, where my plans for creating a mixed use Masterplan for the site received unanimous backing. The decision is subject to formal ratification by full Council. The Ministry of Defence announced their plans to dispose of 54 acre Kinnegar Logistics in 2022 in late 2016 with all Military Units at the site to be re-provided for.

Previously a busy base employing up to 1,000 civilian staff at the height of the troubles the situation has clearly evolved now that we live in relative peace. The service previously given by many at the base is to be commended with the commitment given by the previous Defence Secretary that no job losses will occur also welcomed, with all re-deployed to Palace Barracks.

As we have seen at other sites across Northern Ireland. far too often assets close down, people move on and all that is left is a site turning into nothing more than an eyesore whilst public bodies dither and debate it’s future.  Kinnegar Logistics Base has been part of the Holywood landscape for years and must be utilised to create jobs, deliver homes and act keep Holywood on the map as somewhere to live and do business.

Rather than waiting for the inevitable to happen we must take action now as this site has the potential to become a valuable asset for generations to come. In order for this to happen planning must commence now, in close consultation with local residents, businesses and other key stakeholders.

A fantastic opportunity for job creation if done right, we can’t let this site become like other vacated bases, with development slow and potential development not brought to fruition. Development of plans for this site are also very apt with work now underway to construction the £1billion Belfast City Region Growth Deal.

I’m delighted other Councillors backed my proposal and recommendation Council seeks funding for future development as part of the Belfast City Region Growth Deal. This will now allow us to move forward, hear a wide range of views and hopefully develop costed options for regeneration, including transport, public realm and other supporting infrastructure.  Together we can turn around a sad story of closure to one of success benefiting local people and the economy alike.

Motion tabled by myself and passed at Regeneration and Development Committee on Thursday 8 February 2018 “This Council notes the substantial opportunities available in light of the planned closure of Kinnegar Logistics Base and agrees that serious consideration should be given to seeking funding for future development as part of the Growth Deal for Belfast City Region, due by September 2018. Furthermore, Council requests officers promptly bring back a report highlighting the process for developing a mixed use Masterplan for the site, which will involve close engagement with local residents, businesses and other key stakeholders, and will produce costed options for regeneration, including transport, public realm and other supporting infrastructure.”

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

New Post Box for Cultra signed, sealed and delivered

Cllr Muir at new Post Box at
Seafront Road, Cultra
I am delighted to have signed, sealed and delivered a Post Box for Cultra after leading a long and determined campaign to ensure local residents once again got a First Class service from Royal Mail following decommissioning of the previous Victorian Box which had its aperture closed just before Easter last year.

I am delighted to have been able to deliver this replacement Post Box despite the delays when I started to worry that the replacement Post Box was ‘lost in the post’. As a result of sustained lobbying and follow up on almost a weekly basis the replacement Post Box finally received the stamp of approval in late 2017 with installation then occurring early in the New Year at Seafront Road, Cultra opposite Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club.

Whilst frustrated at the ridiculous delays encountered and fact that the people of Cultra were left to endure no Post Box and associated Second Class service for such a long period of time I am proud to have been instrumental in ensuring this box was signed, sealed and delivered. The scenic location chosen for the replacement Post Box arguably means this has been a ‘Special Delivery’ with the old Victorian Post Box also remaining but painted black in line with protocol agreed with Heritage England. Whilst collections have already commenced from the new Post Box I have asked for details of the precise collection times to be displayed without delay.

Post Box at Seafront Road, Cultra
Although delighted to have achieved this delivery I have still not given up on installation of a replacement Post Box at Station Road, Craigavad which was unfairly removed and returned to sender in 2016. I am currently working with local residents to explore different avenues to get Royal Mail to change their mind and deliver a new Post Box so that the people of Craigavad also receive the First Class service they deserve.

Old Victorian Post Box