Craigavon

SUMMARY

The city of Craigavon was created in 1965 with the aim of building a ‘new city’ by bringing together the two towns of Lurgan and Portadown, linked with smaller residential areas and complete with well-planned housing developments, and motorways with access to Belfast and the countryside. While the final plans were never completed, Craigavon is today a bustling large community with a vibrant young and well-educated workforce, world-class infrastructure and telecoms, a competitive cost base and one of the largest land banks in the country. It also has the largest concentration of manufacturing employment outside Belfast, with 28% of private sector jobs in the sector.

Violence during the Troubles led to major population shifts in Portadown and Lurgan, resulting in residential segregation that continues to this day. The separation of communities is evidenced by the peace wall in Portadown, which acts as a regional flashpoint for sectarian tensions. Other invisible interfaces exist throughout the borough. Portadown was the scene of a major parading dispute in the 1990s, and parading still has the potential to raise tensions across Northern Ireland.

Today, there are almost equal numbers of Catholics and Protestants, and Craigavon also has one of the largest populations of ethnic minority communities outside Belfast. Recent waves of migrants have largely come from European countries such as Poland, Lithuania and Portugal, and there are established Chinese, Pakistani and Vietnamese communities. It also has the third highest actual number of foreign-owned businesses.

There are high levels of volunteering and collective community action in Craigavon, and a substantial amount of Good Relations activity undertaken by community and voluntary organisations and statutory organisations. Craigavon Borough Council has operated a Community Relations/Good Relations Programme since 1990.

 

PROFILE

Craigavon was brought into being in 1965, following plans laid out by Sir Robert Matthew proposing the creation of Northern Ireland’s first new city. This project was never completed, but Craigavon Borough Council was established in 1973 to encompass the towns of Lurgan and Portadown, Brownlow/Central Craigavon and a number of rural settlements, including those along the South Lough Neagh shore.

The history of Craigavon may only start in the 1960s, but the area has long been rich in cultural and industrial history. The Craigavon Borough is spread across 100sq miles and is one of the largest urban centres in Northern Ireland. The area boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in Northern Ireland, ranging from a natural wonderland of lakes, parklands and idyllic landscapes to fine architectural and cultural heritage sites.

Violence during the Troubles led to major population shifts in Portadown and Lurgan, resulting in residential segregation that continues to this day. The separation of communities is evidenced by the peace wall in Portadown, which acts as a regional flashpoint for sectarian tensions. Other invisible interfaces exist throughout the borough. Portadown was the scene of a major parading dispute in the 1990s, and parading still has the potential to raise tensions across Northern Ireland.

Craigavon is rich in religious and cultural diversity. There are almost equal numbers of Catholics and Protestants, and Craigavon also has one of the largest populations of ethnic minority communities outside Belfast. Recent waves of migrants have largely come from European countries such as Poland, Lithuania and Portugal, and there are established Chinese, Pakistani and Vietnamese communities.

There are high levels of volunteering and collective community action in Craigavon, and a substantial amount of Good Relations activity undertaken by community and voluntary organisations and statutory organisations. Craigavon Borough Council has operated a Community Relations/Good Relations Programme since 1990.

Craigavon has plenty to offer: a vibrant young and well educated workforce, world-class infrastructure and telecoms, a competitive cost base and one of the largest land banks in the country. Craigavon has the largest concentration of manufacturing employment outside Belfast, with 28% of private sector jobs in the sector.

The Craigavon area has the third highest actual number of foreign-owned businesses, and second for the numbers employed by foreign-owned businesses. In recent years, Craigavon has attracted seven new inward investment projects, generating investment of over £80 million in the local economy. Only Belfast has managed to secure more new inward investment projects over the same timeframe.

The Craigavon area has a secondary school education that is different to the rest of the United Kingdom; it is made up of three parts: primary school, junior high school and senior high school. This system is known as the Dickson Plan — its roots began 1969 and is one of the most successful types of secondary education in the province. The Dickson Plan is a system of education involving seven controlled post-primary schools in the Craigavon area. The overall results at both GCSE and A-Level consistently exceed the Northern Ireland average.

Following the Reform of Local Government in Northern Ireland, Craigavon will join with two neighbouring councils of Armagh and Banbridge, to form a new larger Council covering 554sq miles. The population of the new ABC council area will be the second largest in Northern Ireland, and represent over 204,100 people as of 2015.