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Love it or hate it? Banbridge’s bright new look divides opinion

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Love it or hate it? Banbridge’s bright new look divides opinion thumbnail

THE Outlook took to the streets of Banbridge last Friday to ask local people their views on the revitalisation project.
This project has seen walls painted with council colours and planters assembled in car parks in an effort to brighten up the town
There appears to be mixed reactions to the project so far with some residents feeling concerned about the vandalism which may occur.
Commenting on the planters located at the entrance to Commercial Road car park, local man Adam Kearney (pictured) said: "they caught my eye for the right reasons and I think it adds a nice touch to the town".
Postman Michael Taylor who works in the town thinks they are: "lovely, it will hopefully attract more people to the town. My only concern would be late at night, I just hope they are left alone."
Rathfriland man Robert Bready (pictured) commented: "Yes, they are nice, it enhances the place I suppose, as long as the vandals don't touch it which is usually what happens."
When asked will it attract more people to the town Robert replied: "I don't think so, if people are coming to town they're coming to the town to shop, I doubt the changes will make much difference."
The total cost of the scheme is £75,000 with £60,000 from the Department for Communities and £15,000 from Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.
Commenting on the walls, another resident added: "I think it looks okay, it's just the painting is a bit out there, the colour is very vibrant."
Workers Bryan McGowan, Arthur Kelly and Emlyn Patterson at Bann Hardware which is located in Commercial Road car park expressed their opinions.
"The main problem has been the cost of it and the ugliness. People have been talking about the size of the planters and I don't think they suit the area which they are sitting on.
“Probably a complete waste of money and the fact that they have planted flowers which were out of season when they were planted and are now dying is ridiculous."
Jennifer Cole from New Image Hairdressers, which faces one of the painted walls, said: "I think it looks nice and brightens up the place."
However, some of her clients were of a differing opinion.
Speaking about the planters one woman commented: "Those ugly looking containers are the silliest looking thing in the town.
“The young ones who are out drinking at night will have the plants pulled up. There was a tumbler lying in one of them for the duration of the week."
Also sitting in the hairdressers was a local painter who had strong opinions on the paint job: "The walls need another coat of paint, it definitely wasn't a local painter who completed the job."
Banbridge woman Michelle told The Outlook: " I think it's a good initiative, having plants and flowers about any town is nice. As long as it is all well maintained I think that's the important bit and to ensure the maintenance of them and hopefully they are not vandalised or damaged."
UUP Councillor Glenn Barr received an official statement from council officers explaining: "This current project will complement the previous successful initiatives delivered by the council in Banbridge town centre including public realm works, business training, landlord mentoring, marketing, promotion, events and a previous revitalisation project.
“The recent Banbridge masterplan identified the need to make improvements to areas at the rear of the main shopping streets to enhance the visitor experience and improve the pedestrian connections between the car parks and the commercial core of the town centre, attracting customers to the town and so helping to boost the local economy.
“The use of colour and vibrancy will create a welcoming environment for residents and visitors, defining the car parks."
Councillor Barr has relayed many of the concerns voiced by residents and is currently awaiting a response from council in relation to questions such as 'were local contractors employed to carry out the work, were the flowers, timber etc. locally sourced and how much will it cost to maintain throughout the year?'
The revitalisation project comprises a number of works including improvements to the boundary walls of commercial premises where walls face onto the car park, planting schemes including container grown trees and planting to screen unsightly areas, removal of unnecessary bollards and redundant fixtures, new street furniture and new car park signage.

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