Belfast Telegraph

Boost for GAA's Casement Park project as Belfast police safety concerns addressed

By John Campbell

The Casement Park refurbishment project has received a significant boost following receipt of a letter by the Planning Service from the PSNI setting out how it is now assured on the more detailed aspects of plans for the proposed new stadium.

It is thought that the actual development of the proposed refurbishment may indeed now be a stage closer, with the PSNI receiving assurances on the project's role in the emergency services' response to any situation that may arise during an event or in the case of a full evacuation.

This engagement is part of the statutory planning process for all major capital projects and it follows over two years of work by the GAA team, headed up by Casement Park project manager, Stephen McGeehan, in partnership with the PSNI and the other emergency services at the Safety Technical Group (STG).

Commenting on the announcement an Ulster GAA spokesman said: "We welcome the PSNI's response to our planning application for a new provincial stadium at Casement Park and their positive submission represents a very significant milestone in the context of the overall project."

Among the areas of previous consideration by the PSNI was the transport of large crowds to and from an event in normal circumstances, car parking plans and the community impact of such numbers arriving in the area, and the safety and security of people attending the event both inside the ground and in the surrounding areas.

The PSNI has reviewed plans for full and partial evacuation of the new stadium into the surrounding streets and towards a place of safety following an emergency situation.

The PSNI planning response consideration states: "At this stage of the development process the PSNI are assured that the issues of concern have been addressed and appropriate processes are in place to mitigate identified risks."

In its correspondence the PSNI sets out further steps recommended to the GAA to be taken to minimise the risk to people attending events at the stadium.

These include the retention of a suitable traffic management company to develop and implement traffic management plans, a functional validation system for proposed electronic ticketing and other measures.

The PSNI also urge that the overall transport plan is supported by evidence that the proposed car parking venues can support the traffic management plan and that there is reassurance around disability access to the venue.

The GAA has vast experience of operating major stadia, many of which have been recently renovated, across Ireland, including Croke Park, which hosts over 80,000 people for major games. Ulster GAA has said that it is fully confident of delivering the future safe management of the new Casement Park if planning permission can be secured.

The GAA spokesman added: "As part of the Safety Technical Group we have worked with the PSNI and all the emergency services to ensure our iconic new stadium delivers the very highest standards of safety, security and event management procedures.

"Subject to planning approval we look forward to continuing our close working relationship with the PSNI and our partners throughout the construction and post-completion of the project."

Belfast Telegraph

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