3rd August 2023


Leading urban regeneration expert, Wayne Hemingway, has expressed unwavering optimism


Stella Kontogianni (AECOM), Wayne Hemingway (Hemingway Design), Stephen Reid (Chief Executive of Ards and North Down Borough Council) and Luis Juarez Galeana (AECOM).


Leading urban regeneration expert, Wayne Hemingway, has expressed unwavering optimism about the transformative potential of the multi-million redevelopment schemes planned for Bangor. As an international designer who has played a crucial role in shaping projects like the £50m Queen's Parade and £78.2m Bangor Waterfront developments, Hemingway was keen to dispel any doubts about the city's future during his recent visit to the borough.

Hemingway's impressive portfolio includes transformation projects across the United Kingdom, in cities like London, York, Crewe, and Margate in Kent. He is known for advocating a departure from the outdated High Streets filled with chain stores and consumerism, in favour of revitalizing town and city centres through culture and social gatherings, with a focus on independent-style shops.

The 62-year-old designer praised Bangor's favourable location and stunning natural surroundings, along with its well-preserved built heritage, singling out the recently rejuvenated Court House as a prime example. An avid runner, Hemingway expressed his fondness for staying in Ballyholme and relishing runs along the scenic coastal path.

In terms of town centres' decline, Hemingway asserted that the blame cannot be placed solely on local councils. He pointed out that the shift towards consumerism in the 1980s and 1990s led to the neglect of the social and cultural aspects that historically defined town centres. He emphasized the need to restore the cultural side of city centres, providing spaces for social interactions, dining, and music, even if it means reducing the number of traditional shops.

Hemingway lauded the younger generation for their more sustainable attitudes and lifestyle choices, contrasting them with the excesses of the past. He drew attention to successful transformations in towns like Shrewsbury, Margate, and Hebden Bridge, which have embraced independence and cultural experiences while distancing themselves from chain retailers.

Regarding concerns about the redevelopment schemes, Hemingway reassured the public that the projects would indeed be executed, but they would require careful planning and a gradual process. He urged patience, emphasising that such ambitious endeavours take time and public input to ensure success.

As Hemingway envisions a brighter future for Bangor, he believes the city will gain recognition and attract visitors once the schemes are completed. He predicts the emergence of boutique hotels and Airbnb's as Bangor's appeal grows, and the idyllic solitude of running along the coastal path will become a thing of the past.

With Wayne Hemingway's expertise and unwavering confidence, Bangor's transformation promises to be a captivating journey toward a vibrant and culturally enriched city, drawing both locals and tourists to experience its newfound charm and allure.


Ards and North Down Borough Council will be receiving £40 million in funding for its Bangor Waterfront Development as part of the Belfast Region City Deal.


Image of Bangor Co Down waterfront on a sunny day with bright blue sky.

The news comes a year after UK and NI Executive Ministers signed the first ever City Deal for Northern Ireland in December 2021.  


The Belfast Region City Deal unlocks £1 billion of co-investment that will deliver more than 20 highly ambitious projects and programmes, create up to 20,000 new jobs and make the region a global investment destination over the next decade.  


The highly ambitious Belfast Region City Deal (BRCD) represents a new way of working between central and local government and regional partners. The UK Government and NI Executive have each committed £350 million and partners a further £150 million toward the shared vision of inclusive economic growth that delivers more and better jobs, a positive impact on the most deprived communities and a balanced spread of benefits across the region. 


The Bangor Waterfront Redevelopment represents an investment of circa £73 million in a 2-mile stretch of the city’s coastline. It will connect the city to the sea through a range of sustainable, world-class visitor and leisure attractions/experiences. With £40 million funding now secured, work can begin to deliver this ambitious 10-year plan, regenerating existing assets including Bangor’s 5 Gold Anchor Marina, the popular family attraction, Pickie Fun Park, as well as significant development and improvement of public spaces. This will deliver on a vision for Bangor agreed by local stakeholders in 2018 – to make Bangor a ‘destination of choice’ to live, work, study and invest in.


There are also plans to deliver a ‘Phase 2’ to the recently opened Court House music venue in Bangor that will include new event and performance spaces and to develop an international watersports facility at a new-look Ballyholme Yacht Club and Watersports Centre. This combination of funding and investment will transform and future-proof Bangor, delivering a significant boost to tourism and encouraging further investment. 

The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Karen Douglas, said: “This is a significant milestone to an exciting new future for the City of Bangor. As the programme of works rolls out over the next 10 years, this redevelopment of the waterfront will bring benefits and opportunities to residents, businesses, and to the wider Borough as a whole. I am very much looking forward to seeing Bangor firmly back on the map as a place to live, work and visit.”


Gerard Murray, Director of the Department for Communities’ Regional Development Office, said: “The Department for Communities is working closely with Ards and North Down Borough Council to support the development and delivery of the Bangor Waterfront Project supported by the Belfast Region City Deal.

“The agreement of the Contract for Funding is a significant milestone and an indication of the excellent collaboration between central and local government to deliver this exciting project. With the recent planning approval for the regeneration of Queen’s Parade by Bangor Marine, this really is an exciting time for the City. Bangor’s residents and visitors can look forward to a revitalised Waterfront reconnecting the city to its marine heritage and re-establishing Bangor as one of our premier tourism and leisure destinations.”

Having received confirmation of funding, the Council will now work through a series of stages as detailed below before any construction begins on the Bangor Waterfront Development.

  • Procure consultants to develop design proposals  
  • Engage and consult with the public and stakeholders   
  • Secure planning and other statutory approvals   
  • Develop detailed technical designs and specifications for construction  
  • Procure a building contractor   

Pickie Fun park pedalo swans

Bangor Waterfront Redevelopment

financed partly by Belfast City Deal investment

The Bangor Waterfront Development is an ambitious proposal to redevelop a two-mile stretch of the seafront (from Skippingstone beach to Ballyholme beach) with the aim of re-establishing Bangor as a thriving town and prime visitor attraction in Northern Ireland.  This will provide opportunities for the wider borough as more people choose to explore the area and, particularly, our local coastline. 

Key elements of the scheme include the redevelopment of Bangor Marina, development of a “Bangor by the Sea” attraction, new greenways and coastal paths linking people, place and sea, reimaging Ballyholme beach and creating new artwork and public realm. Not only will this work enhance the attractiveness of the area and support wider regeneration, but it will create a new destination, encouraging more visitors and residents to enjoy the captivating coastline in new and different ways.

    Video Presentations


Promotional video for Ards and North Down Borough Council & Bangor Marine outlining key features of Bangor's redevelopment programme. (videography by Gary McCormick)

Wayne Hemingway - Bangor Regeneration Renewed Ambition Webinar

Importance of the City Deal Project for Bangor Seafront (Part 1)

Importance of the City Deal Project for Bangor Seafront (Part 2)

Wayne Hemmingway Discusses the Regeneration of Bangor

Bangor Marina


Bangor Marina is the largest 5-star marina development on the Island of Ireland, which attracts a considerable amount of vessels and has achieved Blue-Flag status. Some of the associated infrastructure is critical for the Marina to operate safely and effectively and cannot be moved, however a level of redesign will enable us to increase the number of seafaring visitors to Bangor and to open up the space, making it easier for people to enjoy the sea views.

Our proposals recommend redeveloping Bregenz House as a mixed-use development in a new cluster with iconic and high-quality architecture.

The redesign will include additional public access with dropped boardwalks, seating and viewing areas and the opportunity for cafés/ restaurants integrated into the Marina.

There is also an opportunity to integrate with the plans for the private sector-led Queen’s Parade development, to create a new marine gardens with formal and informal spaces for events and activities, further supporting the leisure and creative sectors within Bangor.

Pickie Fun Park


Pickie holds a host of great memories for families from the Bangor area and beyond.  The giant Pickie pedal swans have become an iconic feature on the Waterfront landscape.  With some enhancements and new features we think it can continue to attract and delight families for many more years to come.

We are proposing the development of new all-weather attractions for both children and young adults, and feature landscaping so it better integrates with the new public realm along the coastline.

An extension to the Pickie Puffer (train ride), that will take visitors from Pickie to the Queen’s Parade area is also part of the proposals.

Kingsland/Ballyholme Yacht Club & Sports Centre

We believe this peninsula affords the opportunity to create a state-of-the-art destination for sports, accommodation and relaxation; a waterfront park to rival the best in Europe.

It is home to Ballyholme Yacht Club (BYC), which has been identified as the preferred location within Northern Ireland for major sailing and watersports events by the Royal Yachting Association. The redevelopment of

BYC would provide Bangor with a world class facility for water sports and the ability to host international events.

Supporting this, we propose to enhance the area as a hub for residents and visitors alike.  We envisage waterfront tourism accommodation pods, café kiosks, and a skate park (now an Olympic sport) set in landscaped gardens.

There is also potential for a small cluster of high quality residential development to the south of the area.

The Music Hub

The creativity of its people, from earliest times to present day musicians and producers, is a key part of Bangor’s DNA. The borough inspires and supports many key influencers within the music industry including Van Morrison, Snow Patrol, Two Door Cinema Club, Foy Vance, Hannah Peel and Lowden Guitars. Ards and North Down is also home to several successful companies involved in TV/film music production.


Independent charity, Open House, has ambitious plans to regenerate Bangor Court House as a permanent home for the Open House Festival and a much-needed multipurpose venue serving the town. Through grants and crowdfunding activity, Open House had secured the funds for their plans, which we can describe as Phase 1.


Having considered a range of options for a music hub as part of the Waterfront Development, we are proposing further developing and building on the Open House plans to create a Phase 2. This will see the capacity of the building double in size to include additional event and performance spaces and creative work spaces that will further ensure the sustainability of the venue as a significant music and creative hub for the Borough.

Public Realm

Bangor’s coastline and stunning sea views have been referenced time and time again during our consultations as the town’s most significant selling points – but they should be enhanced sympathetically, sustainably, beautifully and
in ways that people of all ages can have the opportunity to embrace and enjoy them.

We recognise that and so propose to make a significant investment in new public realm features along this 2.2 miles stretch, making the everyday spaces that people move through, and linger within, as attractive as they can be;
‘instagram-able’ to use today’s social media language.

Travelling from Skippingstone in the west to Ballyholme in the east (or vice versa) should be a real voyage of discovery and we intend to use creative signage, pathways and artistic features to encourage more people to enjoy the journey.

Particular attention will be given to: Skippingstone Beach (multi-use pods for beach activities, accessibility features, feature lighting/benches), Kingsland (café kiosks,  skate park) and Ballyholme (watersports opportunities, feature lighting/ surfacing.

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