Residents in the Holyland have finally seen a draft copy of the results of a Belfast City Council-led consultation into the area’s problems.

The 80-page document was delivered to residents at the last Holyland Residents’ Association meeting of the year, held last Monday (December 12) in the City Church in the area.

Although only a ‘baseline’ copy containing no recommendations to combat the problems in the Holyland, the report does have information on the problems the area is facing.

Overcrowding, rising anti-social behaviour and an abundance of cars parked on the streets are all discussed. The document follows a meeting of the Holyland Stakeholders’ Forum at the end of October that was addressed by representatives from the council. Attendees were told how authorities such as the council and PSNI were provisionally backing residents’ desire to see purpose-built student accommodation created in the city centre.

Liam Kielty from the HRA said while residents were pleased to see progress, work still needed to be done to combat anti-social behaviour in the area.

“It’s a heavy-going read but it is very extensive. We have been handed a copy of the provisional documents without any recommendations to see what we make of it, so we are working our way through it piece-by-piece at the minute.

“It covers things we already know about the Holyland – for instance it says there are too many students living in the area. It also adds that in many university towns in Britain, places are provided for every one in five students, whereas in Belfast it’s only every one in 12, so there is a major underrepresentation of student accommodation.

“We were aware of all that but it’s good that things are now official. It’s still a work in progress but we’re happy to have information down in black and white. Having the figures in the same place proves the point we have been arguing.”

Liam said the next stage would be further consultations on the document before it was finished.

“Firstly we are going to go through this document intently to make sure we agree with everything contained in it. It would be useful to have a context of why the area is the way it is as well, so we will put one together for the front of the booklet.

“We have been told there will be another few minor consultations by the council in January before the consultants put forward their recommendations around March, just in time for St Patrick’s Day. With that timing it should hopefully then mean we will be closer to solving the problem of that particular day.”