From the pages of the Down Recorder, May 6, 1992

From the pages of the Down Recorder, May 6, 1992

4 May 2022

DOWNPATRICK - A call has been made this week for the demolition of rundown flats at a Downpatrick housing estate.

Local SDLP councillor Mr John Doris has urged housing chiefs to demolish, rather than repair, flats at the town’s Kennedy Square estate.

Mr Doris made his plea during a special council meeting on Thursday night when Housing Executive officials outlined housing plans for Down District over the next 12 months.

The Executive has earmarked the Kennedy Square flats for a remedial improvement scheme some time in the three-year period after 1992, although no firm start date has been given.

However, Mr Doris rejected any improvements to the existing flats and called for their demolition.

“These flats are no longer fit for habitation. The best thing to be done with them is to knock them down altogether,” he said.

Mr Doris cited the condition of Kennedy Square as one example of what he termed the Executive’s “mismanagement” of large estate in the Downpatrick area, though he praised the body’s overall record on housing.

Mr Doris said he welcomed improvements to the Model Farm estate, but was not entirely pleased with the standard of environmental improvements. 

He said flats at the neighbouring Flying Horse estate – also earmarked for improvement – were suffering from a long history of problems. The solution, he said was ‘fairly obvious’.

“The problem at the Flying House is that conditions have been allowed to deteriorate. Either remove the flats or else have them properly managed.”

The councillor said communal  areas should be well maintained, with tenants given greater controls of the flats.

Mr Doris criticised the failure to include Fountain Court in the improvement programme and he also levelled criticism at the number of new houses to be built in the Downpatrick area over the next five years.

He said 16 houses will not make a significant reduction in the Downpatrick waiting list.

RAHOLP  – The Housing Executive has confirmed that it is to build eight new homes at Raholp.

The scheme, which is part of the Executive’s rural housing strategy, is expected to get underway next year,

Details of the schemes were outlined by the Executive’s regional controller, Mr Mike Shanks, at a special meeting of Down Council on Thursday night.

Mr Shanks said that although Raholp do not have quantifiable waiting lists, it was felt a “latent demand” for housing exists. 

SHRIGLEY – Grant aid may be sought to restore the Martin Memorial clock tower in Shrigley.

The Housing Executive, which owns the 121 year-old clock tower, has indicated that it may examine the possibility of applying for grant aid to help transform the historic monument.

However, the Executive has also indicated that it no longer wants to be responsible for the clock which has been in disrepair for many years.

Addressing Down councillors this week, the Executive’s regional controller, Mr Mike Shanks, said a better means must be found to safeguard the clock’s future, suggesting the council could have a role.

“I have long felt the clock came to us by accident, but I do not think we are it best guardians,” he said.

Mr Shanks said it was an issue which the Executive needs to address and he would be asking his Board to look at ways of ensuring the clock’s preservation.

Killyleagh Ulster Unionist councillor, Mr Sam Osborne, warned that the clock was “crumbling away”.

“It is time people got together and assumed responsibility. No one is looking after it,” Mr Osborne remarked. 

KILLOUGH – A major conservation organisation has claimed this week that Killough Harbour is one of three Northern Ireland estuaries in most immediate danger of permanent damage.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds made its claim in the same week that Down Council was given formal planning approval for a marina development at the village.

The Society alleges that the major threat to the future of the estuary at Killough is “marina development.”

It says the labour area is “internationally important” for pale-bellied brent goose. There are up to 400 of this species.

The RSPB says that a survey of 126 estuaries in the United Kingdom including Killough, has revealed even greater threats since an equivalent survey in 1988,

HILLTOWN – The village of Hilltown is to receive a £998,000 boost from the International Fund for Ireland, it was announced last week.

A package if proposals has been drawn up to build on the opportunities and threats of the village, particularly its location as a prime tourist area and gateway to the Mournes.

Specific parts of the project include the refurbishment of the Downshire Arms, a listed building currently derelict, to provide a licensed restaurant, bar and function rooms and seven self-catering apartments. 

PORTAFERRY – The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum are anxiously trying to piece together the early history of St Patrick’s Hall, Portaferry, before they create its replica at Cultra.

The reproduction, to be opened in about two years time, will be part of the residential area of the town being put together at Cultra and will be used for educational purposes.

It will take its place near the former Kilmore parish church, which was taken down, stone by stone, near Crossgar a few years ago and erected as part of the museum town. 

Work on the construction of the community-financed Portaferry hall began in 1900 and it was ceremonially opened on August 18, 1903.

CASTLEWELLAN – Two senior officials from the International Fund for Ireland have been urged this week to ensure that funding is made available for community-driven regeneration programmes in towns like Castlewellan.

The joint Director Generals of the Fund, Mr Donal Hamill and Mr Hugh Moore, were quizzed on the availability of funding under the CRISP programme when they visited Downpatrick to meet with councillors.

Castlewellan SDLP councillor, Mr Eamonn O’Neill, who is chairman of the regeneration committee in his own town, told the officials he as “increasingly concerned” about the attitude and funding levels of central Government towards at the CRISP programme.

Mr O’Neill, referring to the Castlewellan project, said there are “vibes” that part of the package is likely to be “cut back” and he found this very discouraging.

He pointed out that the reason for this is not due to any shortage of funding on the part of the IDFI but because of a lack of funding from the DoE.

Mr O’Neill told the officials when they attended a meeting of the East Border Region Committee in Downpatrick on Friday that this would lead many to question the commitment of Government to the CRISP programme.

CROSSGAR – Rowallance SDLP councillor, Miss Margaret Ritchie, has called for more public housing in the Crossgar area.

Speaking at a meeting with Housing Executive officials on Thursday night, Miss Ritchie spoke of the “great need” for more housing in Crossgar.

Miss Ritchie also called for improvements to existing estates in the village, particularly at Westlands.

She said the estate is in need of environmental improvements and also spoke of the “totally rundown” children’s playground.

Miss Ritchie said families living in Willian Street are facing difficulties because the houses are too small and she also called for improved car parking at Executive homes in Kilmore.