Residents ‘confident’ ahead of the Village public Inquiry
A residents' association opposed to the current £100 million regeneration plans for the Village area of south Belfast has said it is “confident” it has a good case to present to the public inquiry into the plans taking place next week.
The inquiry, set for Tuesday, October 20, and Wednesday, October 21, at Donegall Road Methodist Church Hall will offer those opposed to and those supporting the plans an opportunity to put across their views.
The Village was declared an ‘Urban Renewal Area’ (URA) in May 2008, triggering £100m of regeneration money which will see 580 homes (comprising of a 40 percent block area of the URA) knocked down and replaced with around 270 new-build homes. The remaining 60 percent of the URA (730 houses) is to be “significantly improved”.
In July The CT reported that a public inquiry into the regeneration plan had been confirmed, and in August it was revealed the Housing Executive had received 116 objections to the proposals.
The Blackstaff Community Development Association (BCDA) is concerned that “perfectly good houses” within the URA development zone are being “blocked-up” as part of the regeneration plans, while other houses will be vested and knocked down, forcing many elderly residents into temporary accommodation.
BCDA chair Billy Dickson said: “I'm confident that we have a good case to put to the public inquiry. You cannot demolish perfectly good houses.
“We have been anxious to present our case for a very long time — and now we are ready.”
But the Greater Village Regeneration Trust (GVRT) said residents who support the plans will also welcome the opportunity to voice their opinion at the inquiry.
GVRT director Paula Bradshaw said: “Many different opinions will be expressed over the two days of the inquiry, yet GVRT has confidence that the inspector will deal with all contributions with respect and professional integrity.”
A Department for Social Development spokesman said: “The public inquiry is open to anyone who wishes to attend. The purpose is to hear evidence for and against the proposals.
“An inspector, independent of the Department and Housing Executive, has been appointed to chair the inquiry and will present a report to the Department with recommendations for the way forward. That report is expected before Christmas.”