Since Victorian times until about thirty years ago, Queens Parade in Bangor was a thriving seaside thoroughfare with shops, hotels, a cinema, and ice cream vendors all colourfully set in a row, attracting hundreds to that part of the town writes Betty Armstrong.
Sadly, most of the buildings have gone, many are derelict and only artistic type ‘pods’ on waste ground relieve the boredom. In 1989 on the seaward side, the Council built the marina replacing the open bay and the little beach at the bottom of Main Street with a 500-berth haven and associated facilities, a Coastguard station and beside it a boatyard.
But the siting of two huge retail complexes on the outskirts of the town has ruined business in the town centre. Now the Ards and North Down Council, after many proposed and discarded redevelopment plans, has appointed Bangor Marine as the developer to take forward a major £50m regeneration project of Queen’s Parade.
The proposed scheme is made up of; Marine Gardens Public Realm combining external events space, cafes, sheltered promenade and kiosks, beach, seafront lawns, children’s play area and water feature; a 70/80 bed hotel; a destination/cinema building; residential units; commercial/retail/restaurant space; office Space; a play zone; refurbishment of existing commercial properties; 200 space car park; and marketplace and courtyard squares.
Making the announcement the Department for Communities Permanent Secretary Tracy Meharg said: “This development and the £50m investment in Bangor will generate new jobs, new shops, new offices, new homes and make this area Bangor a place to see and visit. It will help to support a number of areas that we know are important to the vitality of our town centres, especially employment and tourism”.
The then Mayor Councillor Richard Smart said “The regeneration of Queen’s Parade is critical to the future of Bangor and to maximising the economic growth potential of the wider borough of Ards and North Down. With the appointment of Bangor Marine – a consortium made up of a number of leading companies including the Karl Group and Farrans – we are taking a very significant and exciting step forward”.
Aran Blackbourne, Managing Director of the Karl Group commented “The Bangor Marine team are delighted to have signed the Development Agreement to deliver this prestigious and life changing development for the people of Bangor and beyond”.