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Casement Park redevelopment 'could be approved' without minister as cost jumps to £110m

The projected cost of the redeveloped Casement Park has increased by £33m.

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Artist’s impression of new Casement Park stadium in west Belfast

Artist’s impression of new Casement Park stadium in west Belfast

Artist’s impression of new Casement Park stadium in west Belfast

A multi-million pound redevelopment of Casement Park could be approved even without a minister being in place.

Ulster GAA has said it received correspondence from the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) this week which said that despite there being no ministers at Stormont, the Department may make the final decision on the Casement Park planning application.

However, the Ulster GAA expressed frustrations at the time it took to conclude the assessment process, adding that DfI has acknowledged the delay and has confirmed that responses will be issued as soon as possible. 

The new projected cost of the redevelopment has jumped to £110 million, £33m more than the west Belfast stadium plan's original budget of £77m.

Tom Daly, Chairman Casement Park Project Board, said, “The planning application for the redevelopment of Casement Park was submitted in February 2017, yet over two years later the length of time it is taking for some statutory bodies to respond to the planning authority is a cause of frustration within our project team and across the wider GAA community.

“Our expert team has worked closely with the Department for Communities (DfC) to support all requirements within the planning process.  We implemented government recommendations in full, extensively consulted and produced a highly detailed and comprehensive planning submission to ensure the planning authority had all the information it required to make an informed decision on our plans to deliver upon the strategic stadium needs of our members and our communities."

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Pictured with Ulster GAA's planning application for a new stadium at Casement Park in west Belfast is Brian McAvoy, chief executive of Ulster GAA, Michael Hasson, president Ulster GAA, Tom Daly, chairman of the Casement Park project board, Collie Donnelly, Chairman Antrim County Board and Stephen McGeehan, project Sponsor

Pictured with Ulster GAA's planning application for a new stadium at Casement Park in west Belfast is Brian McAvoy, chief executive of Ulster GAA, Michael Hasson, president Ulster GAA, Tom Daly, chairman of the Casement Park project board, Collie Donnelly, Chairman Antrim County Board and Stephen McGeehan, project Sponsor

Pictured with Ulster GAA's planning application for a new stadium at Casement Park in west Belfast is Brian McAvoy, chief executive of Ulster GAA, Michael Hasson, president Ulster GAA, Tom Daly, chairman of the Casement Park project board, Collie Donnelly, Chairman Antrim County Board and Stephen McGeehan, project Sponsor

 

Planning permission was granted in December 2013 but quashed a year later by the High Court in Belfast following a judicial review taken against the Planning Service.

In February 2017 revised plans were lodged, following an extensive and unprecedented 32-week public consultation process, with 95% of respondents in favour of the project.

Mr Daly said: “Ulster GAA recognises and fully respects the required due diligence by DfI and all statutory consultees.  However, the prolonged nature of the planning process is stalling the project’s progress and is also impacting its budgetary estimate which is now likely to be in the region of £110m.

"With every day of delay pushing out the earliest possible start on site for the project it is imperative that government departments discharge their responsibilities as expediently as possible to mitigate against increased costs."

Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey said: "I welcome today's confirmation from the Ulster GAA that the Department for Infrastructure has said the decision on the planning application can be made by the department and that a response will be issued as soon as possible.

"We have met with the GAA on this issue and are committed to seeing it being delivered.

"The redevelopment of Casement Park is a key project that will have a positive impact across West Belfast and throughout the north, both in terms of providing first class sporting facilities as well the economic benefit that will come with the project."

A DfI spokesman said: “The planning application for the redevelopment of Casement Park remains under consideration by officials in the Department for Infrastructure.  Further environmental information (FEI) was requested from the applicant in February 2019 in relation to environmental health matters and is due to be submitted to the Department on or before 20 May 2019.  Planning officials are also liaising with DfI Roads colleagues to finalise road traffic considerations linked to the planning application.  This may also require a request for FEI from the applicant.

 “On receipt of the FEI, the application must be re-advertised and further consultations will take place with the relevant consultees.  Thereafter, Departmental officials will progress the planning application to the point where it is ready for a decision to be made.

 “At the point where a decision is ready to be made, in the continued absence of ministers and taking account of the context at that stage, the Department will consider whether to issue any future decision.”

Belfast Telegraph