TYRONE is set to have a new designated town, after the Mid-Ulster District Council decided to reclassify Ballygawley.
Ballygawley will now join Omagh, Strabane, Cookstown, Dungannon, Castlederg, Coalisland, Fintona and Carrickmore as the official towns in the Red Hand county.
The decision is also expected to have an impact in terms of development.
A survey carried out by the council identified Ballygawley as currently having no additional need for extra land for housing.
Yet local Ballygawley butcher, Pat Traynor, said the ‘town’ move would help to develop the area even further.
“In the last five years, there have been about 170 new houses built in Ballygawley which in my view has transformed it from a village to a town.
“This move will bring more people into the town which will in turn help the businesses that are already here. We’d also be hoping that it would bring more business locally. Most people already considered Ballygawley as a town, but the official status is going to be very welcome.”
‘STILL A SMALL PLACE’
Malachy McGirr, 86, wonders what difference the designation will make.
“Ballygawley is still a small place and has always been a good business town. There’s a couple of good restaurants, hardware stores, shops and butchers. But there’s also empty premises which people would like to see being opened up again,” he said.
Welcoming the re-classification of Ballygawley, local SDLP councillor Karen McAleer described it as a boost for the area.
“This is great news for Ballygawley and all those who live and work here,” she said.
“Most local people would refer to it as ‘the town’ anyway, but to have it recognised officially by the council is fantastic and is a testament to the hard work of local traders and residents.”