Maze showground plans approved
Plans to build new showgrounds at the Maze have been formally approved by Environment Minister Alex Attwood.
He said the decision to give the go-ahead for the international-standard showgrounds and show rings would allow the annual Balmoral Show to take place in its new location in May.
Mr Attwood said: "The Balmoral Show is an important event within Northern Ireland's calendar.
"The proposed relocation by the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) is seen as a catalyst for further redevelopment on the Maze/Long Kesh site, which has been identified as a site of strategic importance."
The application from the RUAS was designated one of major importance under Article 31 of the Planning (NI) Order.
It was submitted last June and includes proposals for a facility incorporating a main arena, equine and livestock show rings, entrance canopy, associated landscaping and ancillary infrastructure on the 360-acre site, to be named Balmoral Park.
The Department of the Environment (DOE) said it had received no objections to the plans.
The Balmoral Show has been held at the King's Hall in south Belfast for more than 100 years. The decision to relocate was taken last year after the majority of farmers voted to move to the Maze on the outskirts of Lisburn.
Mr Attwood said: "I have given very careful consideration to this proposal, interrogating all of the issues, including the potential for traffic disruption in the area. I have concluded that effective traffic management by the applicant around events should keep disruption to a minimum. This is another major planning application and one of regional significance. It has been determined within six months of its receipt by the officials in DOE Planning.
"As with all major planning applications, I am making decisions quickly after giving careful consideration to the individual merits of each case. This timely planning decision demonstrates my determination to make a planning system more fit to achieve its purpose and one which will enable the RUAS to relocate the Balmoral Show for May 2013."