Planning Portal

Ards and Down Area Plan 2015
Down District: Downpatrick Commerce (Page 1 of 2)

During the 1990s Downpatrick Town Centre was characterised by slow commercial growth. Ease of access to other, larger shopping centres within a relatively short drive time has meant that there has not been the support needed to support sustained growth in the amount and range of retail provision. The situation has improved and the Town Centre now offers a range of uses from shops to offices and professional services. The Department undertook an assessment of existing facilities and services in Downpatrick as part of its settlement appraisal.
A detailed Town Centre Health Check was carried out as part of the development plan process to provide a benchmark against which to measure the effects of future change in economic activity in the Town Centre.
Small independent retailers provide most of the Town Centre shopping. The total amount of available retail floor space has been increased by the extension and upgrading of Grove Shopping Centre in Market Street, the new shopping centre, petrol filling station and restaurant on the Ballydugan Road, the arrival of several large retail outlets and the redevelopment to retail use of the former Cattle Mart in Market Street. There is also a large retail unit at St Patrick’s Avenue.
Growth in retail floorspace during the Plan period will depend on variables such as household income, population change, household size and consumer behaviour, and the success of the Downpatrick Town Centre in attracting custom from outside the town.
The attractiveness of the Town Centre has been enhanced by a major environmental improvement scheme in English Street, Irish Street and Market Street. New investment has also taken place to replace ageing and unsuitable properties.
Outside the Town Centre, retailing activity is limited to single shops with the exception of the local centre at Ballymote, which primarily serves the two adjacent housing estates, which are some distance from the Town Centre.
Development proposals within the Town Centre, Primary Retail Core and Local Centre will be processed in accordance with prevailing regional planning policy, currently contained within Planning Policy Statement 5 (PPS 5):
Proposal DK 23 Town Centre
A Town Centre is designated for Downpatrick as indicated on Map No. 3/002a, Downpatrick Settlement Map and 3/002h Downpatrick Town Centre Map.
The Town Centre is focused on Breen’s Corner, the complex junction at the heart of Downpatrick’s radial street pattern. Market Street, which runs south westwards from Breen’s Corner, is the main shopping street. English Street which runs westwards to the Holy Trinity Cathedral and Irish Street which runs south eastwards to St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, form the spine of the Conservation Area. Church Street runs northwards from Breen’s Corner.
What the Town Centre lacks in compactness and convenience of pedestrian movement, because of its radial shape, sloping streets, historic development and traffic congestion, it gains in the charm of its townscape within the Conservation Area, its variety of uses and buildings and the proximity of car parking and the bus station to the retail core.
A Saturday market is held in the car park at the rear of The Grove Shopping Centre.
Ongoing improvements to the physical structure of the Town Centre have included several significant additions to retail floorspace. The St. Patrick’s Visitor Centre links the historic townscape of English Street with the main shopping frontages along Market Street. Other improvements include restoration of key buildings at Breen’s Corner in the centre of the historic town, and environmental improvements to the streetscape.
Town Centre image in Downpatrick is adversely affected by property vacancy, and by non retail uses. A large number of upper floors of buildings in the Town Centre are vacant or are underused as storage for ground floor shops. Their re-use by either office or residential development would further revitalise the Town Centre. Proposals to convert upper floors for either use will be judged on their merits. It is accepted that in some situations little or no car parking can be provided, but it may still be desirable to bring disused or underused accommodation into productive use.
Proposal DK 24 Primary Retail Core
A Primary Retail Core is designated within Downpatrick Town Centre as indicated on Map No. 3/002h Downpatrick Town Centre Map.
The purpose in identifying a Primary Retail Core is to allow control to be exercised over development inside that area to ensure the continuance of a compact and attractive shopping environment, offering both choice and convenience.
In St. Patrick’s Avenue, Irish Street and Scotch Street the boundary of the Primary Retail Core is proposed to prevent a gradual spread of shopping into established Town Centre housing areas, and a consequent loss of housing stock and break-up of local communities. In English Street the boundary is defined to prevent the spread of shopping into the traditional civic character of this part of the Conservation Area.
Public buildings in Market Street, the Library on the northern side, the East Down Institute on the southern side, offer well-defined southern limits to the Primary Retail Core. The Down Retail Park with its shopping centre and adjoining retail units on the Ballydugan Road is considered too  remote to be included within the Primary Retail Core.
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