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Casement Park - Infrastructure Minister Mallon recommends planning approval
Tue - October 13, 2020 4:01 pm  |  Article Hits:1844  |  A+ | a-

The long-delayed decision proposed by the GAA's Ulster Council is for a new 34,578 capacity stadium on the existing site on the Andersonstown Road in Belfast.

The project has been stalled since it was first proposed in 2012 with legal challenges from residents and concerns over safety. An original plan for a 38,000 seater stadium was overturned by a court after a challenge by residents.

It's thought the development could cost around £110million with the Executive providing part of the funding. Earlier this year the GAA said it would provide £15m toward the cost.

Earlier this year the-then Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said talks were underway with the finance ministry on funding.

Revised plans were lodged in 2017 and the matter "called in" by Belfast council meaning it was for the minister to decide upon given the scale of the project.

Over 1,306 letters of objection were received along with three petitions against the plan. Another 1,584 letters were lodged in support.

Minister Mallon said her decision on planning was a "significant step". She said the impact to the residential area had to be weighed against the social and economic benefits the development would bring.

"Since taking office I have stressed the need for progression of this long awaited application," she said.

"I acknowledge that this approval was not an easy decision, there has been an extensive consultation process due to the complexities of the application and the level of public representation in relation to the proposal."

She added: "I recognise the impacts on residential amenity from the proposed development but ultimately I had to weigh such impacts with the social and economic benefits that would result from the completion of this project and I truly believe that the Casement Park stadium will be successful.

“The new stadium is of high quality design and will become a renowned landmark building which will provide a further catalyst for regeneration of the Andersonstown Road and an economic boost to west Belfast in general. Belfast as a whole shall benefit from this redevelopment, connecting people from across the city, the north and further afield.

“This stadium will boost sports tourism and the economy in the north. Jobs during the construction phase and additional jobs for the daily management are to be welcomed.

“This decision represents a significant boost for our economy, our community and sports across Ulster and across our island.”

The redevelopment of the site was first envisaged in the plan to redevelop Ravenhill and Windsor Park.

The planning application is for the re-development of Casement Park, demolition of the existing facilities with construction of a new pitch, boundary wall and stands, incorporating bar and restaurant facilities, conference venues, training, community and cultural heritage and education facilities.

There will all be offices, player accommodation and welfare facilities, press, media and broadcast facilities, replacement floodlighting, new arrangements for vehicles and pedestrians.

It is also proposed the stadium is used for up to three outdoor music concerts a year.

The matter will be referred back to Belfast City Council for ratification.

Sinn Fein MLA Sinead Ennis welcomed the announcement.

“The announcement that planning approval has been given to build a new state of the art stadium at Casement Park is very welcome news," she said.

“Not only will this be welcomed by Antrim Gaels, it is also a massive boost for west Belfast and the wider community.

“It will provide a welcome economic boost to west Belfast and also create many jobs in the construction.

“I want to congratulate the Ulster Council and Antrim GAA and everyone who worked so hard over many years to get where we are today.

“Sinn Fein has been at the forefront of campaigning on this project for many years, working with many others, to get us to a place where the Minister is in a place to make this positive announcement.”

 

Credit:  Belfast Telegraph

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