Vacant buildings and a lack of shops are among Dromore’s most pressing problems.
That’s the conclusion of a town centre ‘health-check’ carried out by the group tasked with drawing up a vision for the future growth and prosperity of Dromore.
In October lat year Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland announced GM Design Consultants had been appointed to prepare a ‘masterplan’ for the historic cathedral town, designed to stimulate and guide the future development of the town centre.
The health check involved surveying businesses, shoppers and 10% of all households in Dromore town and the surrounding rural area.
Billy Robinson of GM Design Consultants outlined the findings.
In the past decade, he said, overall deterioration of the town centre had continued, with more buildings standing vacant.
More than half of all property in the town centre is now either cleared, derelict, vacant or greatly under used, he said, so initiatives such as the refurbishment of the Town Hall, library and adjoining public realm works in Market Square had been positive.
Whilst a lack of shops was noted, it was also perceived there were a number of good quality food retailers, that service retailing had remained relatively buoyant with additional hairdressers and beauticians opening businesses in the past decade and that there were several cafes, restaurants and takeaways.
The number of well-used commercial and community functions was also noted, particularly the churches and their facilities.
The decline of the town centre was blamed on insufficient local support, with a large proportion of households rarely or never visiting.
It was found that loyalty to the town centre came mainly from older, long-term residents, many of whom visited the town centre on a daily basis.