Belfast Telegraph

New mental health project in the Braniel Estate abandoned

By Bob Malcolm

The proposed building of a secure mental health facility in the Braniel Estate has been abandoned.

Triangle Housing proposed the project to create an apartment block of 11 self-contained one-bedroom flats for those who "experience mental health difficulties" on the site of a former clinic and library at 16 Glen Road.

The Housing Executive released details of the abandonment of the project on September 18.

The Braniel Community Association went into action after 50 householders were contacted about the planned proposal and the association delivered 1,000 letters to locals detailing the housing association's plans.

Triangle Housing countered claims that the proposals and public meeting details have not been widely publicised.

Local PUP representative Ian Shanks said people were worried about what the secure apartment block would do to the value of their homes and how the mental health problems of those living there may affect the local community, as there were three schools nearby.

Ian Shanks said that the abandonment had been a victory for the local community and criticised one political party for "taking credit" for what local people had done.

He said: "The people of the Braniel are responsible for this not happening.

"But the Alliance Party have a newsletter that they send out and the front page of it was about what they had done to help.

"I did the work to put the meetings together and informed people of what was going on.

"Michael Copeland and Vivienne McCoy could have taken some of the credit for the work they have done but it wasn't about that, it was about the community standing up and stopping this."

He said the Alliance's Carol Howard had asked one question at the meeting and that at the second meeting in Braniel Church, Michael Long had attended and had them sit at the front so that people would know who they are.

"Their newsletter about it didn't even come in to the Braniel and they were highlighting their contribution.

Michael Long, Alliance councillor said: "Given the level of local opposition to the project and the problems with process under Triangle and the Health Trust, I believe the application's withdrawal was the only sensible decision.

"However it is important we see new facilities in east Belfast for those recovering from mental ill health and Alliance will continue to ensure these are available locally.

"There was good co-operation between political parties and community associations on this issue. Having spent a considerable amount of time on this project, I met regularly with Triangle over the course of this process and dealt with many concerns from local residents.

He countered Ian Shanks' claims that the Alliance party were attempting to steal anyone's thunder: "I am happy for residents to know the work the Alliance Party put in, however it was never our intent for it to appear Alliance was the only group working hard. Overall it is clear a combined effort led to the final resolution."

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