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Residents call on west Belfast GAA club to reconsider fencing plans which will ruin view from their homes

Patricia McParland and Jim Orr, residents of Corrib Drive in the Lenadoon area of west Belfast, who fear that new wooden fencing at St Paul's GAA club will ruin the view of the city from their homes. Picture by Hugh Russell

WEST Belfast residents have called on a GAA club to reconsider plans for 15-foot wooden fence which they say will ruin the picturesque view of the city and the Mourne Mountains from their homes.

St Paul's GAA club, on the Shaw's Road, is currently undergoing redevelopment which will see a 3G pitch and new terracing installed.

However, residents living at houses in Corrib Avenue, which backs onto one side of the ground, are unhappy at plans to construct the high fence between their homes and the club.

Although the work has been granted planning permission and residents stress they are not objecting to a fence being erected, they say they have requested - and were led to believe - that wire mesh would be installed, enabling them to retain the view from their homes.

Three neighbours have told The Irish News that the views were a key factor in their decision to live in the street.

Patricia McParland, who moved into Corrib Avenue last Easter, said: "We were thinking it would be wire mesh fencing, and then last week we saw the work starting on it.

"I have been told that they are trying to get this resolved. However, I asked the committee to come and meet with me and I didn't have any response."

Ms McParland, who previously lived in the Owenvarragh area, beside Casement Park, has said she will feel like she is "in jail" if a wooden fence is erected.

She said: "It doesn't make sense to make a start on the wooden fencing and then change it later to wire mesh.

"I have nothing against the GAA, but what I am against is the GAA coming in and thinking they can do whatever they want."

Another neighbour, Caitriona McGreevy, said: "It was the view that sold the house to me. Now they are going to take this away from me.

"My two boys played for St Paul's, I love seeing the kids out and playing. What is wrong with the wire?"

Jim Orr, who have lived in the area for 45 years, said that residents feel there "has been a lack of consultation".

Mr Orr said: "Nobody in the club has shown any interest in our views. We were promised that there would be further consultation."

St Paul's was one of three GAA clubs in west Belfast to appeal to the community to "be vigilant" earlier this month after a spike in anti-social behaviour at its grounds, however residents say the new fencing is unconnected to the attacks.

The neighbours say it has also been claimed that a wooden fence is required to deal with noise pollution obligations under environmental health regulations.

However, no environmental assessment was deemed necessary with the planning application and Belfast City Council said it was unaware of any such issue on the site.

Mr Orr said: "If that was the reason given, why did the environmental health team not come out and ask about the noise issue? It is totally contradictory information."

In response to the concerns, St Paul's treasurer, Micky Rooney, said the club have been working with all stakeholders on the plans and previously met with one resident who voiced concerns.

"We have asked our design team to look into the options and see what we can do, but we have complied with all the statutory requirements," he said.

"We obviously will take on board anything the local residents have to say."

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