Ravenhill's new glass panels to go after protest by residents
Ulster Rugby has instructed contractors to remove glass panels from the new grandstand at Ravenhill after a furious response from residents concerned at invasion of privacy.
Home owners on Ravenhill Park Gardens – directly behind the grandstand – were left aghast when a 20-metre section of glass was installed in the rear of the stand, giving a clear view into their properties.
The Belfast Telegraph visited three houses on the street and were shown how anyone in the proposed first floor committee room would be able to see right into their kitchens and bedrooms.
Ravenhill's former grandstand was demolished last summer and building work has since been ongoing on its replacement.
Residents have also complained about noise and dust from the work, with 83-year-old Eleanor Brotherston saying the disruption left her so upset that her doctor recommended counselling.
Ms Brotherston – who has lived in her home for more than 60 years – said that during demolition the paintings on her walls were vibrating and the dust was so bad that she couldn't open her windows or use her back garden.
Her neighbour Raymond Quinn said residents became even more horrified and angry on Tuesday when they watched glass being installed at the back of the stand.
Another resident, Roisin Brown, slammed the move as "unacceptable".
Mr Quinn showed the Belfast Telegraph a mocked-up photograph he had been given of how the stand was proposed to look from his back garden – clearly showing solid walls with no glass.
However, a spokesman for Ulster Rugby yesterday revealed that it has instructed its contractor to remove the glass panels because of the concerns of residents.
In a statement, Ulster Rugby said it is "committed to maintaining a meaningful dialogue with residents affected by the development of facilities at Ravenhill Stadium", adding that it "recognises that residents have a right to influence issues that affect their homes and environment".
The statement added: "As part of the ongoing construction of the new grandstand, 20 metres of feature glass was installed this week at first floor level.
"A number of residents voiced concerns to Ulster Rugby about the glass, believing that it might affect their privacy.
"As a result, Ulster Rugby has instructed its contractors, Gilbert Ash, to remove the glass and to replace it with solid cladding.
"This work will be completed in the coming weeks and will be in place before the stand is open to spectators for the first time."
The home of Ulster Rugby at Ravenhill is undergoing a £14m transformation. It is set to be increased from 12,000 up to 18,000 seats, with the aim of creating a more family friendly ground as well as the capacity to host a PRO12 final or Heineken Cup quarter-final match. The original grounds were opened in 1924 and apart from a new stand opened in 2009, remained largely unchanged until this investment.