Belfast Telegraph

Frustration as delays to Casement Park scheme see cost soar to £110m

The proposed new Casement Park stadium unveiled by Ulster GAA
The proposed new Casement Park stadium unveiled by Ulster GAA

By Mark Edwards

Delays to a huge redevelopment of Casement Park have seen the cost rise by more than 40%, it has been claimed.

The spiralling bill emerged amid suggestions the project could be approved even without a minister in place.

Ulster GAA has said it received correspondence from the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) this week which said that despite the Stormont Executive being in cold storage, the department may make the final decision on the Casement planning application.

However, Ulster GAA expressed frustration 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 £110m, £33m more than the west Belfast stadium plan's original budget of £77m.

Tom Daly, chairman of the 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."

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 unprecedented 32-week public consultation process, with 95% of respondents in favour of the project.

A DfI spokesman said: "The planning application for the redevelopment of Casement Park remains under consideration by officials in the DfI. 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 May 20, 2019.

"Planning officials are also liaising with DfI Roads colleagues to finalise road traffic considerations... 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."

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