Much has been said in recent weeks about the public realm works but what exactly is happening and why now?
The process started back in 2009 when the Lisburn City Centre Masterplan was being prepared. Work began on developing a new public realm in 2010 as one of the key projects identified in the Masterplan.
The next stage was to invite all the utilities to undertake any works they would be planning in the coming years so that it would not be necessary to ‘dig up’ the streets once the new paving etc was installed. NI Water Service came forward with major upgrade works throughout the city centre starting in early 2013 and only vacating the area of the public realm in September.
The public realm works began immediately, initially removing the Nicolson monument (which is getting refurbished before taking up its new position on the north side of the museum) and excavating the old sunken gardens.
This area is perhaps where the most exciting changes will take place and therefore the most extensive works. Two new level terrace areas will be made, featuring seating, water features and interactive lighting. Together this creates a new event space in the heart of the city with interactive features for all year round.
Repaving works have also takne place at the lower end of Bow Street where street furniture and the old paving has been removed and the new paving is currently being laid along a 50 metre stretch up the centre of the street.
A small stretch of paving in Market Square South is also being replaced and new kerb lines introduced.
The works at the bottom of Bow Street have caused the most disruption as they are in the busiest pedestrian area. A spokesman for Lisburn City Centre Management said actions have been taken when issues have been raised by the public or shop owners such as increased communication, the installation of graphics to explain the works, actions to minimise traffic flow in Bow Street, installation of pedestrian cross over points and of course the installation of the Christmas Tree outside River Island.
In the old sunken gardens area some works will continue within the confined area into December, but actions are being taken to minimise the impact of the other works. Most of the area being paved in Bow Street is now open with fencing removed. Works start again in the New Year.
The public realm works initially includes improvement works to paving, kerbing, signage, planting with unique elements including interactive lighting bespoke street furniture, water features and street lighting.
Initially the scheme will focus on Market Square and Bow Street and the adjoining streets such as Haslem’s Lane, Market Street and Market Lane.
The LCCM spokesman said: “It is anticipated the work will significantly raise the quality of the environment to enable Lisburn City Centre to diversify and in turn attract investment and leisure activities that will help to sustain activity in the City Centre outside traditional business hours,.
“This investment in Lisburn City Centre is fundamental to delivering the economic regeneration of the city to ensure it remains vital and viable for the future.”
The new Market Square will be revealed in time for Christmas 2014.
For full details of the works visit www.lisburncity.gov.uk