Belfast Telegraph

Public to have their say on re-shaping Ballysillan

By Dave Whelan

Residents in north Belfast are being urged to have their say on a multi-million pound regeneration of the Ballysillan and greater Ardoyne areas.

An eight week public consultation has been launched by the Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland on the concepts for the 20 year planned investment for the area.

Around 7,000 leaflets will be distributed to homes and businesses within a wide area of north Belfast and include the communities of Glenbank, Benview, Sunningdale, Wheatfield and Glenbryn and extended along the Crumlin, Oldpark, Cavehill, Westland and Ballysillan roads, to promote a series of public consultation events running from October 28-December 14.

The Masterplan was commissioned in Spring of 2013 by the Belfast Regeneration Office of the Department of Social Development and draft proposals have now been drawn up following extensive process of research and consultation with local people and organisations, including community groups and school pupils.

An estimated £47,000 has been awarded to the Paul Hogarth Company for producing the draft Master Plan that aims to address significant challenges of a social, economic and political nature in north Belfast.

Some of the main features that will be open for public discussion and feedback include:

•Developing a new small hotel and conference centre serving visitors of the north of the city and Belfast International Airport.

•Building a new landmark centre for creative arts and industries, providing training opportunities and a venue of city wide importance.

•Identifying vacant buildings or land suitable for socially beneficial uses

•Supporting and revitalising neighbourhood centres through continued environmental improvement projects and shop frontage upgrade schemes

•Providing new homes on vacant sites consisting of mixed house type and tenure to support healthy and diverse communities.

•Ballysillan Road improvement works including new paving, street furniture, tree planting, lighting and possible new public art pieces to reflect the history and culture of the area.

•An outdoor activity and education centre to strengthen the connection between Greater Ballysillan and the surrounding Belfast Hills.

•Continued upgrading of sports provisions in the Ballysillan Playing fields including dedicated changing facilities, enhanced pitch provision, lighting and mixed use games areas.

•Renewal of the Ballysillan Leisure Centre to accommodate all ages.

•Exploring the potential and viability of a new community educational facility with emphasis placed on adult and further education needs.

Announcing the consultation Minister McCausland said: "Following a comprehensive process of research and consultation with the local community, concepts for a draft plan have been produced that propose a series of projects to help the Greater Ballysillan area become a vibrant and thriving part of the city.

"When I announced this project back in May, I emphasised the importance of the local community having their say on how any plans that would affect them would be shaped.

"With the extensive programme of consultation events to be held throughout the area, the consultancy team has ensured that over the next eight weeks, everyone will have an opportunity to contribute to the process and I would certainly encourage people to do so."

Times and dates for the public consultation events and the concepts for the draft masterplan can be viewed on the DSD website.

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