Council race to create wildflower meadow at former Forkhill military base or lose £50,000 grant – Armagh I
EU funding to transform the site of a South Armagh army barracks in a wildflower meadow must be spent “urgently”, they told advisers.
The £50,000 is to be used by November as part of an ongoing project to reinvent the old base of Forkhillsay Newry, Morne and Down District Council officials.
Money from the Peace Plus program was used to clean up the area and create a green zone with wildflowers.
Local authority representatives have been told that no direct council funds are available if the November deadline is not met.
The report by an official of the Municipal Business and Tourism Regeneration Commission states: “It is important to proceed now with urgency with the planning and completion of the works on site.
“The removal of the blast wall and redevelopment of the footpath remain longer term priorities for the whole site and it is important that the council and other central government partners continue to work with the community on this. .
“If necessary, the fees or costs of surveying or preliminary study must be budgeted for.”
The site clearance business case was approved in September 2021.
A previous planning application has been made for a children’s play park with business unit planning which is also to be sought for parts of the eight acre village center site.
Slieve Gullion Councilor Pete Byrne (SDLP), who sits on the Forkhill Old Barracks Site Partnership Committee, said the new green zone will be key to future planning directions.
He added: “Over the past few months we have developed a comprehensive biodiversity and access plan through the Greenspace Partnership as we enter the next phase of regeneration of the former barracks site at Forkhill.
“The intention is to open up the middle of the site and encourage more wildlife into the green space through innovative planting along open spaces for public enjoyment.
“However, due to current financial constraints, we have decided to speed up work to clear the center of the site and plant the wildflower areas.
“In the short term, this will increase the green space and allow us to have an idea of how best to use it in the future.
“This stage of work will be completed by November 2022 and secures the wish of the vast majority of residents that the site will be preserved as an open green space for generations to come.”