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Planning process rumbles on as Casement project marks 1,000th day

Plans to redevelop Casement Park were first launched in 2011 Plans to redevelop Casement Park were first launched in 2011
By Ciara Quinn

THE Chairman of Casement Park Stadium Development Project board has expressed “deep frustration” that the project continues to be stalled 1,000 days after its second planning application was submitted.
Funding for the ambitious stadium project was announced in March 2011 as part of major upgrades to Windsor Park and then Ravenhill Stadium. Planning approval for Casement was quashed in December 2014. The two other stadium projects have been completed.
Revised plans were submitted in February 2017 with a reduced spectator capacity of 34,000. The plans are still being assessed by planning officials.
In a letter sent on behalf of Ulster GAA, Tom Daly said the plans “continue to be encumbered by a prolonged planning process”.
“Monday (November 25) marks 1,000 days since Ulster GAA submitted its planning application in February 2017 for an iconic new Provincial Stadium in Belfast which would deliver the last strand of the Regional Stadia Development Programme, a key commitment within the NI Executive Programme for Government.
“The completion of Kingspan Ravenhill Stadium for Ulster Rugby and the Irish Football Association’s Windsor Park Stadium is bringing significant benefits to their members and to wider society and it is obvious that the provisions of modern infrastructure has helped develop the profile and standing of both sports.
“At Ulster GAA we are determined that 250,000 association members and new visitors to our games will enjoy similar benefits once the long-standing commitment made to us by Government are fulfilled.”
Cost of the new stadium now stands at £110 million, 40 per cent more than the initial £77.5 million budgeted.
The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) said it recognizes the importance of the planning application for Casement Park.
“We appreciate that there is frustration at the time taken to process it, however this is a complex proposal where different views and concerns are apparent. It is essential that the planning process is progressed in a thorough, fair and objective manner that ensures that all relevant factors are considered.
“The Department has pursued comments from all consultees in order to complete its professional assessment of the application and these have now all been received. We have met with the applicant’s team with a further meeting planned, to see how a small number of outstanding issues related to Roads matters can be progressed.
“We are working hard to progress the planning application to the point where it is ready for a decision to be made. The next stages will depend on the political and legislative context that applies at that point.”
West Belfast MP Paul Maskey told Daily Belfast that he shares the “same frustration” that the GAA have expressed.
“I’ve met with the GAA Casement development team on many occasions and they have submitted all relevant information to planners over the last three years.
“In my view the planners have had enough time to review this case in all its detail and they should make the decision soon.
“I’ve met with the planners regularly and I continue to push them to make the decision. I have pointed out to them that other major planning applications have been submitted to the planners after Casement Park application and they’ve been approved. I know they have to make sure they get it right as there was a legal ruling on it but 1,000 days is long enough,” he said.
“Casement, when built, will be the jewel in the crown of West Belfast. We’ve seen major development in recent years including the new Andersonstown leisure centre almost next door and that will be completed early next year.
“The vast majority of people want to see it built, they know the benefits that it will bring. Hopefully a decision will be taken by the planners in the very near future.”

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