NI's first urban villages revealed

Published Thursday, 20 March 2014
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Colin and Lower Newtownards Road have been announced as the first two urban villages of Northern Ireland.

NI's first urban villages revealed
The first two urban villages were revealed on Thursday. (© OFMDFM)

Last year, it was revealed that four urban villages would be established to rejuvenate communities.

The Colin area, which includes areas such as Twinbrook and Poleglass, is situated on the outskirts of west Belfast and falls under Lisburn City Council's jurisdiction.

It has been chosen because of the specific challenges it faces as a large urban area.

With a high population of about 26,000 people, it suffers from a distinct lack of social infrastructure.

The Department for Social Development and the Belfast Regeneration Office have already developed plans for Colin, which are at an advanced stage.

The Lower Newtownards Road in east Belfast has been chosen as it is a recognised area of high urban deprivation and decay, with many derelict buildings. Cross-community tensions run high in parts of the Lower Newtownards area.

The announcement was made by the First and deputy First Minister on Thursday.

The urban villages' vision is to provide these areas with a new community heart through careful use of existing capital and by pioneering improvements to the look and feel of the area.

First Minister Peter Robinson

First Minister Peter Robinson said: "The 'Together: Building a United Community' Strategy, published in May 2013, reflects the Executive's commitment to improving good relations and to build a united, shared and reconciled society.

"These two urban villages offer the community the opportunity to utilise innovative and visionary proposals to make real and lasting change in areas that have seen years of decline, market failure and low social capital," the DUP leader added.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: "The Colin and Lower Newtownards Road urban village regeneration projects offer the residents a unique opportunity to influence the look of their areas and build the social capital and local amenities.

"The development of the urban villages will bring the local community together to work on enhancing their built environment to deliver for all residents. We want to see these areas transformed so the community is reinvigorated with a sense of pride in where they live and work," the Sinn Féin MLA said.

"Stronger good relations, through working together towards a common purpose, will build the sort of community we wish to see. One that is united in building a better future for all the people who live, work and socialise in the area."

© UTV News
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