’Dee harbour revamp under threat in dispute

By Iain Gray

QUESTIONS have been raised over cash for regenerating Donaghadee Harbour – because Stormont says it’s not in the town centre.
The harbour lies outside the registered boundary lines of Donaghadee town centre, a senior Ards and North Down Council official confirmed last week.
And Stormont money meant to pay for big regeneration projects can only be spent on schemes inside that boundary.
Making matters worse, it might not be possible to redraw the boundary to take in the harbour as, according to officials, town centres are meant to be concentrated around an area’s retail core, not landmarks.
That was all revealed at an Ards and North Down Council meeting last Wednesday night, when future plans for Donaghadee came up for discussion.
A masterplan for the town published several years ago listed the harbour as one of four main areas to be regenerated by 2030.
Describing Donaghadee Harbour as ‘one of the town’s greatest strengths and opportunities’, the masterplan states that regenerating it would boost the town centre’s fortunes.
Plans for the landmark include constructing a breakwater to make it more accessible for boats, as well as developing new commercial leisure opportunities along its frontage.
Most ambitious was a scheme to link the harbour’s outer pier to the shore, extending the promenade and forming a beach in Donaghadee Bay.
But now all of that may be under question, because a cash pot for big regeneration schemes set up by the Department for Communities isn’t available for any projects that lie outside the boundary lines of town centres.
Said a council official last week: “Unfortunately the department’s funding only sits within the town boundary.
“We continually asked them would they change that rule, but unfortunately to date that has not been enabled.
“Unfortunately, from a regeneration point of view, we can only use the department’s money within the town boundary.”
Officials added that they’re keeping Donaghadee’s regeneration plans under review.