THE developers behind Hillview Retail Park have submitted plans for 18 new homes on the site.
The retail park on the Crumlin Road has laid dormant for over a decade with previous anchor tenant, Dunnes Stores leaving in 2007.
The site is now owned by Killutagh Estate’s Hillview Belfast Limited, who previously had retail unit plans approved by Belfast City Council.
This week, a consultant to the developers revealed that plans have been submitted for 18 homes on the site.
Discount retailers Lidl and Home Bargains and a day centre for the elderly have also been announced as the first tenants on the site, which is due to open early next year.
Lidl will create 30 jobs with Home Bargains set to recruit 15 staff members. A further 30 roles will be created during the construction phase.
Human Rights organisation, Participation and Practice of Rights (PPR) have long called for social housing on the site to ease the housing crisis in North Belfast.
Reacting to this week’s news, Seán Brady from the group hopes the homes will be “social, affordable and sustainable”.
“These homes can go some way to tackling the housing crisis in North Belfast – if they are social, affordable and sustainable, but much more is necessary to create a development and planning process that meets the needs of the people of Belfast and rises to the housing and climate challenges we all face,” he explained.
“The ambitions of private developers and sectarian political agendas can be challenged and changed.
“The process around Hillview has been scandalous and inherently anti-democratic and we desperately need a new way forward. Lidl will come and go as it suits them but this land is a part of North Belfast and can be used to meet the community's needs.
“That any housing at all is being built here is a testament to the hard work and cooperation between homeless families and campaigners, political parties and community groups against massive odds.
“It wasn't long ago that the former MP for the area, Nigel Dodds, was actively opposing any housing development at this site. That was wrong, and the planning process facilitated that agenda. We can do much better in future.
“With a new Minister in place and a change in the make-up of Belfast City Council we hope equality and sustainability will be the priority for all future development processes.”