Northern Ireland

'Gondola' ride proposal for Mournes

Slieve Donard
Image caption The proposed gondola ride would run to Drinnahilly on the lower slopes of Slieve Donard

Government regeneration plans for Newcastle include a proposal for a 'gondola' ride in the Mourne mountains.

The proposal is part of a masterplan for the County Down town and the surrounding area.

The 'gondola' cable ride would run from Donard Park to Drinnahilly on the lower slopes of Slieve Donard.

The idea is one of a number contained in the South East Coast masterplan produced by the Department for Social Development (DSD).

The document says that the gondola "would be capable of bringing more tourists to the area".

"This would build on Newcastle's status as 'The Gateway to the Mournes' and create an attraction unique in Northern Ireland," the document states.

A DSD spokesperson said: "The proposal is based on theNevis Range Gondolain Scotland which is a very successful attraction.

"The concept is based on this idea, and would obviously need more work done on the detail of its route and minising disruption and visual impact, while at the same time providing the optimum views for tourists of the coast and moutains."

Other proposals contained in the masterplan include a retail and craft village at the exisiting Newcastle Centre site, and redevelopment of the current Island's Park in the town.

The document has been produced in order to guide development in the area and to maximise tourism potential in the years ahead.

However, it conceded that: "Some of the proposals may have the potential to happen in the short-term whereas others are likely to be long-term aspirations."

The masterplan also contains plans for regeneration in the neighbouring towns of Kilkeel and Warrenpoint.

Image caption The gondola ride would begin in Donard Park at the foot of Slieve Donard

The plans were developed by DSD in conjunction with Down District Council and Newry and Mourne District Council and are currently out for public consultation.

The Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland said: "I believe this draft masterplan provides us with an ambitious but realistic vision of how the south east coast can make the best use of its assets and secure its ongoing success and prosperity."

The consultation ends on 30 May 2012.