Funded by the Department of Social Development, DRD Roads Service, Armagh City and District Council and the Arts Council, the £5.7million Armagh Environmental Scheme included the regeneration of 12 streets to create a much more user-friendly, accessible and vibrant city centre.
Extensive consultation with traders, businesses, residents, local community groups and the public helped the scheme to address many issues raised over recent years, including the introduction of wider footpaths, pedestrian crossings and disabled parking, thereby improving safety and accessibility.
New street layouts, new lighting, granite paving, feature seating, bins and landscape architecture have all contributed to a greatly enhanced city centre. High-quality stone materials, public art projects and feature lighting present the city’s famous architecture at its best.
Many traders have taken advantage of the council’s Shop Frontage Scheme which offered a grant to assist in redecorating their shop fronts. This has further lifted the city’s overall appearance, making Armagh an even better place to shop, live, work and play.
A key objective of the regeneration scheme was to create a more inviting and accessible city centre, helping to rejuvenate the ambience of this historic cathedral city. This has been achieved with the completion of the new Market Square area, followed by the opening of several new cafés and restaurants, offering the opportunity for a new al-fresco dining experience in Armagh whenever the sun shines.
Project Environmental Management
The contractors SIAC are registered compliant with ISO 14001 and strive to achieve best practice environmental performance alongside its recognised high standard of Health & Safety. A dedicated and well-informed team combined with regular inspections and auditing on site helped to achieve this.
A concerted effort to source local labour and materials and a stringent procurement assessment for all suppliers and sub-contractors helped ensure that all partners shared the same environmental policies.
A detailed Site Waste Management Plan ensured that minimal waste was sent to landfill. Left-over granite was donated and used in a local community garden allotment scheme. Sub-base concrete was left in-situ where possible and any surplus material has been utilised on other regeneration schemes by SIAC.
A full-time Public Liaison Officer was appointed and an open-door policy retained at the centrally located site office for the duration of the scheme. Monthly Steering Group Meetings involving traders, councillors and utility representatives helped to recognise and diffuse potential problems for the scheme.
SIAC scored highly in the Considerate Contractors Scheme, achieving 35.5 out of a potential 40. The CCS auditor commented: “This scheme has scored exceptionally well and congratulations are in order. The site management uses excellent practices and the site working areas look very well indeed. It is not surprising that a commercial resident placed lines of appreciation about the contractor in his local paper advert.”
CEEQUAL Award presentation
The scheme was officially launched by Margaret Richie, Minister for the Department of Social Development, on 25th November 2009. The minister said: “I am amazed at the visible changes to Armagh city centre as a result of this regeneration. It has unmistakably restored the city to its former glory. I have no doubt that these significant improvements can only attract and stimulate further private sector investment, and entice visitors to spend time in this vibrant city centre, enjoying the shops, restaurants, café culture and events, which are now on offer.
“The completion of this scheme is the result of both hard work and determination of all those involved, my Department, Armagh City and District Council, Armagh City Centre Management, DRD Roads Service and the Contractor, SIAC Construction Ltd.
“The works have been delivered ahead of schedule and just in time for the anticipated Christmas shopping period. I am sure the transformed city centre will be hugely beneficial to the traders and a delight for the residents, visitors and eager shoppers to Armagh City Centre.”