Northern Ireland news

GAA submits new Casement Park planning application

A map of Casement Park and the surrounding area in west Belfast
Brendan Hughes

ULSTER GAA has submitted a new planning application to redevelop Casement Park in west Belfast.

The revised stadium design has a proposed spectator capacity of 34,186.

It comes more than two years after approval for the original design was overturned in a High Court legal challenge.

The new proposed capacity is a slight reduction on the previous figure of 34,500 put forward in a consultation last October.

Ulster GAA hopes to begin construction later this year and finish in 2019.

Tom Daly, chairman of the Casement Park project board, said there has been "overwhelming support" for the project.

"Everyone involved in the project is now looking forward to the next phase and developing on our plans to transform Casement Park into a venue that will inspire young people for generations to come," he said.

The £77m redevelopment, which includes £62m of public funding, has suffered years of setbacks and controversy.

Planning approval was overturned in the High Court in 2014 following a legal challenge by residents.

Casement Park: The background.

In 2015 a safety expert told a Stormont committee the original proposed stadium could not be evacuated safely in certain emergencies – a claim dismissed by the GAA.

Residents behind the previous legal action remain opposed to the revised design, saying it is "not a significant reduction" in capacity.

A redeveloped Casement is among the proposed stadia for an all-Ireland bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Ulster GAA president Michael Hasson said the new stadium would create jobs and become a "vibrant cultural hub" for the area.

Collie Donnelly, Antrim County Board chairman, said: "This is another major step in the journey to bring Ulster's provincial stadium to the heartbeat of Antrim GAA."

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