Market Yard development shelved

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After THIRTY years in the pipeline plans to develop Coleraine’s Market Yard have been SHELVED.

At last Tuesday night’s Policy and Development meeting at Coleraine Borough Council councillors were told that they had a decision to make on what would happen at the town centre site, given that Peace III funding had not been secured for the site.

The £4.5m museum project was intended to include a library, visitors centre, cafe and outdoor space at the town’s former livestock market off New Market Street..

Richard Baker, Director of Leisure Services, told the meeting that the future of museum services would have to be considered.

He stated that £225,000 had been spent on fees since 2006 when the Council first commissioned a design team to draw up plans for the site.

Mr Baker added that other monies in connection with the project had been “written off by the auditor.”

UUP councillor William King described the news as “sad.”

He said: “We have to ask ourselves what could the market yard be used for?

“I think it we should give Mr Baker time to see what would be suitable.

“It is a difficult one, and we should keep our options open. But, we shouldn’t leave it lying. We have spent money on it, so it should be utilised.”

Fellow UUP councillor David Barbour described the site as an “asset”.

He said: “We need to explore what we can do with this. We’ve been talking about having a museum in Coleraine now for 30 years. It is an on-oing saga.”

Independent councillor Christine Alexander proposed that a special meeting of Council should be called to “thrash out” options for the site.

“It has been in the pipeline for thirty years, so we have to consider all options for the site and the museum collection.”

UUP councillor Norman Hillis said he was disappointed that the funding had failed: “What are the financial implications? We’ve spent a very sizable amount. This could have a major impact on rates. Is five, six, seven hundred thousand [Council has spent?”

Director, Richard Baker replied: “We’ve spent £225,000 to date on fees. Other money has been written off by the auditor.”

A proposal by councillor Alexander to hold a special meeting was agreed by members.