Ards and Down Area Plan 2015
Policy Framework: Industry
Industry and employment opportunities within the Plan Area are largely concentrated within the two main towns of Newtownards and Downpatrick. The unemployment rate within the Plan Area has reflected the downward trend in Northern Ireland and has tended to be below the Northern Ireland average.
The most recent figures available confirm that 12.4% of employees in Ards Borough Council were employed in the manufacturing sector and 80.7% in the service sector. This compares with 12.8% and 80.8% respectively for Northern Ireland as a whole. There has been a sharp decline in manufacturing jobs within the Ards Borough since 2003, falling by 20.2% compared to the Northern Ireland average which saw a decline of 4.6%.
Down District Council also has the majority of its working population, some 83.6% concentrated in the service sector, and 7.5% in the manufacturing sector. Downpatrick does not have the same manufacturing tradition as Newtownards and this is reflected in the number of people employed in this sector which is below the Northern Ireland average of 12.8%. There has also been an overall loss of manufacturing jobs in Down District since 2003, with a decline of 14.5%.
The previous area plans zoned land for industry in Comber, Donaghadee, Ballynahinch and Newcastle as well as in Newtownards and Downpatrick. Further areas of land were also indicated as being suitable for industry in Killyleagh, Annsborough. Ballygowan, Ballywalter, Cloghy, Portaferry, and Portavogie.
Of the 47 hectares of land previously zoned for industry, within the Ards Borough, approximately 29 hectares remain undeveloped. Of the 27 hectares of land zoned in the Down District approximately 7 hectares remain undeveloped. In addition to the remaining zoned land an additional 34 hectares of industrial land was approved at the start of the Plan period on the edge of Downpatrick for IDB and LEDU companies (now Invest Northern Ireland (INI)). This land is not included in the Down District figures for proposed industrial land, but is protected under Proposal COU 12 in Part 3 of this Volume of the Plan as existing industry.