A NEW park on the Lower Shankill – adjacent to the Westlink – has been officially opened by Belfast's Lord Mayor.
Funded under the Building Successful Communities programme, the £1.9million park stretches from Peter’s Hill, alongside Denmark Street to Regent Street, and includes two play areas, an outdoor gym, a multi-use games area and a community garden with a toilet facility.
The park was redeveloped by the Department for Communities in conjunction with Belfast City Council and with the ongoing input of residents in the area.
Department for Communities Permanent Secretary Colum Boyle was joined by representatives from the council and from the local community to mark the occasion.
Mr Boyle said: “DfC is committed to positive regeneration, in collaboration with communities across Northern Ireland. I am delighted that funding from the Department has delivered this new park and public facilities here in Lower Shankill for everyone to enjoy. It will transform the area and be a major community asset that local people can be proud of.
“The delivery of this scheme proves how working in partnership with the local community can deliver physical, economic and social renewal."
Belfast City Council has taken ownership and responsibility for maintenance of the facilities. While now open to the public, the new park has not yet been named. A shortlist of names suggested by children and other members of the local community is available on Belfast City Council’s website for public vote.
Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Ryan Murphy said: “We’ve made a commitment in The Belfast Agenda to create and support welcoming, vibrant neighbourhoods – and this park is helping to deliver on that. This is a fantastic example of successful partnership working, and I’d like to thank the Department for Communities for their investment, and the Lower Shankill Community Association and Hammer and Denmark Street Community Centres for all their valued input.
“We received a fantastic range of suggestions for the new park’s name from local children, their parents and community groups, and we’re now asking the public to choose their favourite from the shortlist: Angel Park, Lower Shankill Park or Rock Roots Park. So please do get involved!
“I’m very much looking forward to seeing the park being used and enjoyed by people of all ages – it’s a super asset for Greater Shankill residents,” added the Sinn Féin man.
Councillor Ian McLaughlin, a member of the steering group for the scheme, said: “This is an exciting day to see this part of Greater Shankill revitalised into an area which will bring new and positive energy, with a facility to be used and enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.
"Thanks to Department for Communities through the Building Successful Communities programme for their willingness to engage proactively with residents and stakeholders. The result is a series of positive measures aimed at improving quality of life outcomes for our community. This park is a key part of that transformation.”