DSD withdraws support for north Belfast regeneration plan
PLANS for a £200 million regeneration project in north Belfast were in doubt on Tuesday night after a Stormont department withdrew support from the preferred developer.
Northside Regeneration Limited had planned to provide accommodation for up to 3,000 students in an area close to site of the new Ulster University campus near Belfast city centre.
The scheme received backing from the Department of Social Development despite opposition from local community groups concerned about the impact it would have on their district.
In a letter to local community groups and politicians, officials from the Department of Social Development said that minister Maurice Morrow believes the scheme would no longer benefit from department support.
The letter revealed that the minister had recently carried out an assessment of the scheme.
“As part of this process (the) minister committed to taking the views of local stakeholders into account as well as a number of areas including where the developer had not met requirements set by the department.
“The minister has decided that the scheme as proposed by Northside Regeneration Limited should no longer benefit from the potential use of his department’s statutory powers.”
Community representatives in nearby Carrick Hill had feared that family homes would be vested and knocked down to make way for student flats and were angered after it emerged that land previously earmarked for social housing was being handed over to developers.
St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s Housing Committee spokesman Frank Dempsey said the controversy should be investigated,
“We would be calling for an enquiry for such an ill thought out development that has cost these communities dearly with the loss of social housing sites,” he said.
“From the outset the total lack of consultation was abysmal.
“This community and traders have shown total opposition to this.”
Mr Dempsey also called for the “these same social housing sites to be returned to the community as soon as the new DSD minister takes up post”.
“We want them back and we are calling on voters through north Belfast to ask the political parties for total support,” he said.