EXCITING plans to transform Castlederg with a riverside walkway, new bridges and enhanced sporting facilities have taken their first step after councillors agreed to progress a Green Infrastructure Masterplan for the town.
The plan will be developed in stages subject to funding. In the short-term it will include environmental improvement works to Castle Park and council officers will access the feasibility of developing a riverside path, along the River Derg, from Castlederg to Spamount.
Further parts of the project could see the development of a new riverside walkway at the Castle Site, a greenway link along Dergview to Castleview Terrace, a potential running track at St Eugene’s GAC, a new park area at the Castle Park site, and a new bridge extension for the Derg Bridge along with a new bridge link to Dergview FC.
Welcoming the news UUP councillor Derek Hussey said “The proposals presented have been forthcoming following consultation with those interested parties. The Masterplan is wide ranging and although it cannot appear overnight it enables elements to be undertaken in stages.
“Plans within two of our local sports clubs continue to progress with a Shared Spaces Programme, whilst council officers are continuing to progress elements of the plan for continued environmental improvements at Castle Park through the Village Renewal Programme, and already being addressed are issues of drainage at Mitchell Park which will bring the number one pitch back into use for competitive football,” Alderman Hussey explained.
“Council is also assessing the feasibility of redeveloping the riverside path along our Derg River from Castlederg to Spamount. For quite a few years I have been urging consideration of a long distance pathway right through from Ardstraw to Lough Derg, via Killeter, following the old ‘Pilgrim Trail’ and this element would be a start to such a development and encourage more tourists into our Derg Valley area.
“Also, for some time myself and other local councillors have had safety concerns in regard to pedestrians crossing the narrow footpath on Derg Bridge, so, a proposal to consider a separate footbridge beside the road bridge is to be welcomed.”
Alderman Hussey concluded by adding “I have only touched on some of the ideas within the Masterplan which presents opportunities for our area but is not time bound and will be progressed in stages as and when funding becomes available.
“That said, we now have a roadmap to carry forward improvements for the benefit of all of our Castlederg community.”
SDLP councillor Cara Hunter also added her support saying, “The area has been long neglected and this investment is much needed. In particular, the focus on greenways has far reaching benefits for the local environment as well as health and well-being.
“Prioritising routes for pedestrians and cyclists will hopefully get people out of their cars and on their feet – focusing locals on healthy living. These linkages will foster cross-border networks and make the area more connected.
“This is an exciting development for recreation and leisure activities in the area. Most importantly, this incredible investment will improve and boost community relations. I look forward to seeing the progress of this project.”