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Casement Park: planning application delayed for at least one year

Published 07/08/2015

A glimpse of what the redeveloped Casement Park stadium would look like
A glimpse of what the redeveloped Casement Park stadium would look like

The redevelopment of Casement Park faces a fresh delay after it emerged a planning application will not be submitted for at least another year.

It is the latest setback to hit the troubled project.

The original application was quashed by a High Court judge last September.

It had been hoped that a fresh application would be submitted this year, but that is now ruled out.

A report released on Friday estimates it will be 12 months or more before it can be lodged.

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"[Ulster Council] GAA representatives told us that they were hopeful of submitting a fresh planning application in the summer," it states.

"We looked at some of the core activities that would need to take place to achieve this, and even assuming parallel running of activities where possible, we believe it could easily take 12 months or more to make an application from the point at which successful working relationships are re-established with STG (safety technical group)."

The report recommends that key officials, including the chair of the STG - who raised safety concerns - should be replaced.

Paul Scott claimed he was put under "undue pressure" to approve plans for the revamped Casement Park.

The report recommends that an independent person should be brought in to lead the STG.

It said someone skilled in "mediation and facilitation, rather than technical knowledge" is needed.

Friday's report concludes that relationships between key stakeholders on the £76million project are "broken" - and says a mediator is needed.

"We believe the use of an independent mediator will be needed to reset working relationships," it states.

A full-time and dedicated Senior Responsible Owner is also needed to lead the whole programme.

Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin said that while the stadium would be delayed, it would go ahead.

"This project can and should be completed, and I believe that we are now in a better position than ever to move ahead with it."

However, Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said it was clear the Sports Minister had presided over a shambles in relation to the Casement Park project.

Casement Park is undergoing a £76million revamp as part of a Government commitment to upgrade outdated sports facilities.

The GAA wants to build a 38,000-capacity all-seater stadium on the current site on the Andersonstown Road in West Belfast.

The stadium is among the proposed venues for Ireland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup bid.

In May Ms Ní Chuilín ordered a full review of the redevelopment plan after concerns were raised by Mr Scott.

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