Belfast Telegraph

Plan to give Belfast dam plagued by yobs new lease of life

By Rebecca Black

The dream of turning a neglected west Belfast water course into a tourist attraction has moved a step closer with potential investment by Stormont and transfer of ownership to the City Council.

Springfield Dam had become a hotspot for young people to congregate and engage in anti-social behaviour, much to the distress of residents.

Locals complained that groups of up to 100 youths were gathering in the area, drinking and taking drugs.

The Department for Communities commissioned a feasibility study in conjunction with Belfast City Council and both are working on potential future uses.

The council's strategic and policy resources committee is to discuss plans for the site at its meeting tomorrow.

Documents for the meeting reveal the committee will be asked to approve the transfer of the site from the department to the council following expenditure of around £500,000 on upgrade work.

The feasibility study produced two options, the first of which would cost around £500,000 while the second would cost £1.2m.

However, to secure the funding from Stormont for option one, construction work must begin before March 31 next year.

There is not enough funding available for option two.

Option one includes the basic framework to improve access and provide for recreational use of the site.

"The proposed paths will provide for circulation between the dam and Springfield Park and also link into proposed new entrances to the site," the minutes on Belfast City Council's website read. "This will facilitate loop walks in the locality. The proposed recreational facilities include a proposed building for classroom/training/recreational use, fishing stands and an activity trail."

The minutes add: "The transfer will be at nil cost to the council and will only take place following completion of capital expenditure of £0.5m. Maintenance costs for three years following completion of the capital works and handover to the council will be covered by the Department for Communities. Staff from legal services and estates unit will complete the transfer of the land and staff from the project management unit will deliver the capital project on behalf of DfC, with design and maintenance advice from the city and neighbourhoods department."

The proposal will have to be approved by the committee and passed by the next full meeting of the council before it is confirmed.

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