Bangor's City Status: Hope
Bangor’s attractiveness to potential investors is continually growing. With its easy access to Belfast, the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain; excellent digital and transport connectivity; highly educated workforce and outstanding natural environment, it offers a lot of potential opportunities. Key sectors currently operating in Bangor include Creative and Digital; Hospitality and Leisure; Business and Professional Services and Advance Manufacturing and Aerospace.
The wider Borough has the second highest tourism sector related employment in Northern Ireland. New home-grown businesses are giving visitors better access to Bangor’s surrounding coastal waters and more reasons to visit the area - Bangor’s proximity to Belfast as a new City will consolidate visitor day trips and overnight opportunities.
Bangor is now entering a decade of opportunity benefitting from investment totalling over £72.8M, that will enable it to embark on its most ambitious regeneration journey for a generation. The award of City Status gives further momentum to this. The Council is currently progressing the ambitious plans to redevelop Bangor Waterfront with new, sustainable, tourism and leisure attractions. The Bangor Waterfront Redevelopment received £40M of funding from Belfast Region City Deal, a bespoke package of funding from the UK Government, with the remaining investment coming from both the Council and the private sector over the next 10 years.
The Redevelopment will showcase Bangor's coastline and stunning sea views by enhancing the City’s public realm in a sympathetic and sustainable way. Find out more Bangor Waterfront.
Bangor’s largest 5 gold anchor accredited Marina, the largest on the island of Ireland, will be redesigned to increase the number of seafaring visitors and open up the space so more people can enjoy the views of both boats and sea. Pickie Fun Park, consistently in the top ten tourist attractions in Northern Ireland, will be developed to include new all-weather attractions and activities to appeal to children of all ages. The facilities at Ballyholme Yacht Club (BYC) will be redeveloped to create an international watersports centre to rival the best in Europe. It will enable the City of Bangor to host a variety of international events.
In recognition of Bangor’s creative heart, the plans include proposals for a Music Hub with event and performance spaces in the Court House, home to the successful Open House Festival, now in its tenth year.
Ward Park in central Bangor is a unique park covering 37 acres, with small lakes, wildfowl sanctuary, sports facilities and War Memorial. Originally the site of a brickworks, it was designed by Cheal’s Nurseries in 1909 and gifted to the people of Bangor by the Ward family. Ward Park is home to a cosy café, an active Park Run group and is a great place to walk, enjoy the wildlife and let children play in the playground. During the summer months, live music draws crowds with their picnics to relax and enjoy the atmosphere. Ward Park is about to undergo essential maintenance work to its ponds and lakes, upgrades to bridges and a general improvement throughout the Park, to ensure it remains an oasis of beauty and nature in the heart of the City.
Complementing the Bangor Waterfront Redevelopment is the private redevelopment of Queen’s Parade by Bangor Marine Ltd. An investment of £50M+ will deliver new homes, offices, and retail opportunities, as well as leisure offerings including a hotel, a range of hospitality venues and a children’s activity centre. You can read more here: www.queensparadebangor.com
Bangor is also home to Citizen Sea, NI’s first boat based environmental charity. The Council has supported the group via funding from the Recycling Community Investment Fund. This funding has been used to develop a package of unique initiatives aimed at proactively protecting and enhancing the natural environment. Examples of projects include Sea Bins, to remove single use plastics from our coastal waters, based in Bangor Marina; a participatory budgeting project in all five towns in the Borough including Bangor and the CLEAR school environmental education project.
The Council itself is also championing sustainability with a range of initiatives including solar powered bin lorries, rewilding schemes and electrification of equipment.
Bangor is known for its Sports and Leisure offering. It is home to two yacht clubs – Ballyholme Yacht Club as mentioned above, and Royal Ulster Yacht Club established in 1866 and awarded the title of Royal Ulster by Queen Victoria in 1869. Both Clubs contribute to year-round enjoyment on the water with cruises and racing courtesy of RUYC, regattas, F18 Catamaran World Championships and Irish Laser national Championships run by BYC.
There are also four golf courses in Bangor – Clandeboye, Bangor, Carnalea and Blackwood each set in stunning locations, each offering their own unique course styles and challenges.
Bangor is also home to Northern Ireland’s first 50m ten-lane swimming pool and elite diving centre. The Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex attracts over 1 million visitors a year. In addition, the Complex also offers squash, hockey, football, Gaelic sports and a 120-station fitness suite.
Another exciting potential development for Bangor’s largest 5 gold anchor accredited Marina may be the welcoming of a new zero-emission high-speed ferry as part of the Belfast Maritime Consortium. The Consortium brings together 13 partners from across industry, academia and local authorities, funded by UKRI in one of its largest awards, to collaborate on the development and launch of the world’s most advanced high-speed zero-emission passenger ferry, and to develop the technical and operational requirements for a maritime transport system of the future.
The project could create new commercial opportunities, help tackle major environmental challenges and promote new sustainable travel opportunities in line with government policy, which calls for all new vessels to be designed with zero-emissions capable technologies by 2025. Definitely a project worth watching.