SWARD: Maghera Integrated Village Plans
We were appointed by Magherafelt District Council as part of a team led by Venturei Network to develop a series of proposals for rural settlements including Upperlands, Castledawson, Culnady, Tamlaght and Maghera – the Maghera Integrated Village Plans.
SWARD is one of seven clusters in Northern Ireland selected by the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development to implement Axis 3 of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2007 – 2013. This aims to improve the quality of life and encourage diversification of economic activity through a range of measures in these areas. Each integrated village plan was to consider the needs and issues facing the community and in association with the public and private sectors identify and prioritise a range of actions which will directly address those needs or issues. The plans were required to provide a strategic framework to coordinate specific development actions for the village areas and their communities over a five year period whilst also giving a broad vision for the long-term development of the areas.
There was a clear focus on environmental improvement in this work – building facelifts, tree planting and open space facilities combined with a fresh approach to dealing with traffic in these settlements through contemporary measures such as shared surfaces and blurring the divisions between pedestrian and vehicle areas. The priority was to assemble projects which could be implemented relatively easily and in the short term.