'It should be renamed Sectarian Street' - Order questions building of houses near Belfast Orange Hall
The Orange Order has said that there are "questions to be answered" over the building of houses at a Belfast parade interface, yards from an Orange Hall.
Choice Housing has been granted planning permission from Belfast City Council to build the development in north Belfast.
Four houses and six apartments are to be built at Stanhope Street/Regent Street, just yards from Clifton Street Orange Hall.
Clifton Street is one of the main parading routes into Belfast city centre with around 20 parades including the main Twelfth procession each year passing the location. conditions have been placed on all those parades in relation to conduct. The Orange Hall has come under attack numerous times over the years and there have been protests staged along the street in opposition to parades.
A spokesman for the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast said the group will be seeking a meeting with Choice Housing to ask why they weren't consulted on the development. Choice Housing, however, said it consulted "extensively" with officials at the hall.
Orange Order officials said Belfast City Council didn't recognise "the sensitivities of this area with regards to cultural expression" and queried where the development fit into cultural plans for the area.
"Questions need answered and we will appreciate the locally elected representatives assisting us in obtaining the answers," a lodge spokesman said.
The order said the plan, in conjunction with a Parades Commission decision to ban supporters of Orange parades from the Clifton Street/Donegall Street areas would create a "permanent no go area" along the main parading route.
"The Orange Institution’s objections do not relate to the needed housing, but how the siting of housing on this main arterial economic route into the city centre makes a nonsense of the aim of a shared city," the spokesperson said.
"If this development goes ahead Clifton Street should be renamed Sectarian Street."
Choice Housing said it was "committed to undertaking full, open and effective community consultations for all of our developments".
"We can confirm in relation to this project that Choice Housing undertook an extensive consultation process, which included consulting with the Belfast Orange Hall on the proposed development," a spokeswoman said.
"An initial community consultation letter was issued in June 2017, which was followed by a meeting with public representatives and members of the Orange Order (August 2017) and we engaged in written correspondence (on 2, 15 and 17 of August 2017). Further correspondence took place in September 2017.
"Ultimately all social housing schemes are approved by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, reflect local housing need and allocations are made in full compliance with the common selection scheme."
A Belfast City Council spokesperson said that the application was approved "after considering all material planning considerations in full accordance with how planning applications should be processed".
"No objections to this application were received. Full details of the application are available on the Planning Portal," the spokesperson said.
A Parades Commission spokesperson said that around 20 loyal order parades, including the Twelfth of July parade, pass Clifton Street each year, with many assembling and dispersing at the Orange Hall.
"Conditions have been placed on these parades in relation to music and supporters, and to ensure compliance with the Commission’s Code of Conduct,” the spokesperson said.
Belfast Telegraph Digital