'Boyne Bridge Defenders' preparing for' a fight over £150m transport hub plans
South Belfast residents are braced for a showdown with Translink over the company's ambitious plans for a new Belfast transport hub.
People in Sandy Row are prepared to fight to save the historic Boyne Bridge, which will be removed under proposals for the £150m rail and bus gateway at Great Victoria Street.
Many turned out at the Europa Hotel yesterday for the launch of the first of a two-stage public consultation process on the planned hub.
Translink CEO Chris Conway and Fanos Panayides, director of John McAslan & Partners, revealed designs for the redevelopment of the 22-acre site.
Former councillor Billy Dickson voiced his concerns for the bridge after the presentation. He also criticised the glass design of the proposed hub, saying: "I don't see why we can't go along with a traditional Belfast image."
Valerie Allen, owner of local shop TA Allen, also expressed concern over the need to preserve history, but emphasised: "This is the most exciting opportunity for years. I don't want to be negative about it. The history of Sandy Row is very big and very long. It's there, but people don't know it's there."
Mr Dickson told the Belfast Telegraph: "My view is that the bridge is too important to be removed. They are talking about taking the bridge and putting it on ground level. Now, if it's at ground level, it's not the Boyne Bridge. We will form a group, maybe we'll call it the Boyne Bridge Defenders." He added that despite issues with the bridge, he did back the project: "I am very much in favour of this hub. I'm excited about it, but to say it's going to be the saviour of Sandy Row, people are being deluded.
"The main entrance will be facing away from Sandy Row, people won't be popping down to Sandy Row for a cup of tea. If anything, it will take business away from the area."
Those who raised concerns were assured that they would be listened to and that planners will seek to engage with appropriate groups as the consultation process continues. The second stage of public consultation will take place in early 2017.