CEEQUAL Excellent (75%) – Whole Project Award
Version 4, Jul 2015 | Omagh, Northern Ireland, UK
|Winner – CEEQUAL Outstanding Achievement Awards 2016 – Community and Stakeholder Relations|
Assessors: Eddie Abraham (McAdam Design)
Verifier: David Fisher (The Design Environment)
OASIS (Omagh Accessible Shared Inclusive Space) marks another step forward in the regeneration of Omagh town, improving linkages and access to the River Strule and maximising the recreational potential of this natural amenity. It includes the development of a pedestrian and cycle path along the river bank between Bells Bridge and the Strule Bridge, the installation of a pedestrian/cycle bridge to create a link into the town centre, and the creation of a recreation and meeting space above Drumragh Car Park.
The project also creates a new and exciting Public Space where people can meet, socialise and work. The development includes a plaza type area, raised above the existing car park providing functional flexibility, where people can meet, browse market stalls, watch children play and relax in a modern vibrant environment.
The principal aims of the OASIS scheme were:
- To provide a safe, neutral, shared open space which will increase opportunities for interaction through work and recreation.
- To develop a flagship, iconic project and legacy for the Peace Programme.
- To enhance the network of physical links of pedestrian and cycle paths and bridges around and within Omagh Town, and create a vibrant new plaza as a focal point for bringing together people from all communities.
- To continue the urban regeneration of Omagh, with a particular focus on the River Strule, maximising its visual and recreational potential.
The project team implemented a successful community consultation and communication plan, which helped them obtain 98% in the Local Community and Stakeholders section of their CEEQUAL Assessment.
Relations with Local Community and Stakeholders
A Community Consultation Exercise was carried out at each stage of the project by an appointed representative for the Client, Design and Contractor teams. These representatives were responsible for the community engagement sessions throughout the duration of the scheme.
As part of the community relations programme, a project related website was created which allowed the project team to publish press releases and provide regular project updates to the local community throughout the duration of the project. The website also allowed members of the local community to provide their thoughts and considerations for particular aspects of the proposed scheme. This element of the relations programme proved invaluable in providing the local community with a completed scheme which considerably improved the existing area. Obtaining responses and feedback from the local community ensured the public were provided a completed scheme which improved the local transport network, town centre appeal and a connectivity across the river Strule into the town centre.
Design proposals were released at community venues around Omagh during the planning stages. The community relations programme included mechanisms for local interest groups to communicate with the projects urban regeneration officer who met regularly with the Omagh Town traders throughout the implementation of the project. All feedback obtained was sent to the client and reported to the project team in the monthly project board meetings.
All community consultation responses were recorded as part of the community relations programme and reviewed internally by council representatives. The representatives then updated local councillors within the district on progress of key milestones, project/planning approval, contract award, and contract completion.
The contractor team played a considerable part in the success of the community relation programme by establishing partnership links with local groups. The contractor opened relations with shop owners and stakeholders at an early stage and maintained a working relationship throughout the duration of the construction stage. During this process the contractor created a complaints register which was updated on a regular basis and discussed at the monthly project team meetings. The contractor invited students from a local college to visit the site at regular stages throughout the construction stage which provided valuable experience to all attendees.
All responses from the local community relations programme throughout the project were assessed by the client/design teams and further reviewed during project team and board meetings. Some scheme improvements that resulted from the project community relations programme include:
- The Strule Arts Centre contacted Omagh District Council to establish what services would be provided at the bandstand/stage area for hosting events. As a result of consultations with their events advisors, the stage area was upgraded to include permanent lighting gantries, front and rear, with sockets for power/lighting and audio. The gantries were structurally designed to accommodate the equipment recommended by the Arts Centre advisors. In addition, communication cabling was provided from the central kiosk at the bandstand to a suitable position were the sound and audio deck would be operated from. This change to the scheme minimised anti-social behaviour within the area and provided local choirs and bands with higher quality equipment;
- CCTV was added to the scheme following community discussions between council and local stakeholder representatives which ensured improved security for all operational staff and users;
- The Omagh District Council’s Urban Regeneration Officer held discussions with local stakeholders including community relations programme through the councils database in a bid to deliver the Peace Pledge Plaques which were commissioned through the community relations programme. The Plaques were unveiled by the ODC, CEO and Rev. Dr Latimer.