Delamont master plan soon to be made public

Delamont master plan soon to be made public

10 July 2019

A PLAN mapping out the future development of the sprawling Delamont Country Park on the shores of Strangford Lough is due to be made public within weeks, according to a local politician.

Newry, Mourne and Down Council is understood to be putting the final touches to a proposed master plan for the park outside Killyleagh following a public consultation exercise held last October.

The local authority is keen to make one of the best county parks of its kind even better and last year invited people to put forward their views on how the stunning location on the shores of Strangford Lough can be developed to attract even more visitors.

The event was hailed a major success with Rowallane councillor Billy Walker — who also took part in what as billed as a workshop when a variety of ideas were put forward — keen to see the final detail of the park’s plan.

He said it was his understanding that the plan will be made available to councillors as early as September and is looking forward to pouring over its detail.

Cllr Walker said the local council was committed to enhancing what the country park has to offer to help attract even more visitors to what is one of the district’s most popular tourist facilities.

Some of the ideas that emerged during the council workshop included a pitch and putt course, bowling green, water sports facility, dedicated camping site and disc golf. 

For his part, Cllr Walker is keen to see the walled garden opened to the public, suggesting it would be a terrific venue for outdoor concerts.

The 200-acre country park already attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year with Cllr Walker and those who use it on a regular basis confident that it has the capacity to do much more.

The Rowallane politician has also welcomed the progress being made to overhaul and extend the Education Authority’s base in the grounds of the country park which is used to deliver a variety of outdoor purists courses.

Several years ago, the building was earmarked for closure by education chiefs as part of a rationalisation of outdoor youth provision, but it secured a reprieve as a result of pressure from Cllr Walker and his council colleague, Terry Andrews.

Contractors are currently hard at work restoring and extending the facility which commands spectacular views over the country park from the front of the building and Strangford Lough from the rear.

“While something of a cliché, there is no doubt that Delamont is one of the jewels in the district’s tourism crown and has much, much more to offer,” said Cllr Walker.

“An Education Authority building which not that long ago was earmarked for closure will soon enjoy a new lease of life thanks to major investment, while the publication of the eagerly-awaited master plan will hopefully map out a number of exciting future developments at the park. These are two key elements of Delamont’s future success.”

Cllr Walker said he hopes that the public will be given time to view the content of the master plan when it is completed and that money to provide a raft of new facilities can be secured to allow work to potentially start next year.

“The Education Authority stuck to its promise to invest in Delamont and I hope that the local authority will honour its commitment and start planning to provide more facilities at the country park which offers huge development potential,” he said.

“While already a significant tourism attraction, there are not that many facilities apart from a children’s playground, stunning walks and the hugely popular Steamer’s cafe and miniature railway. 

“While I am not advocating that the beauty of the area is spoiled in any way, there are hundreds of acres of space which could be used to boost the park’s tourism offering.”

Cllr Walker said the availability of finance to enhance the park is critical to its future development, providing new attractions and creating a boost for nearby businesses in Killyleagh.

He added: “The eagerly-awaited master plan is the key to unlocking Delamont’s future development and can also pave the way for much-needed investment. This is something I and many others are looking forward to.”