Northern Ireland news

Calls for Department of Infrastructure to explain why granite kerbstones are to be removed

Roddy OFlaherty pictured beside the traditional granite kerbstones on the Landsdowne Road, north Belfast . Picture by Ann McManus.

THERE were calls last night for the Department of Infrastructure to explain why traditional granite kerbstones are to be removed from a north Belfast street.

Residents of Lansdowne Park, which is within a designed area of traditional Belfast Townscape Character, accuse the department of being "somewhat misleading" after a letter said the street's footpaths were to be relaid but failed to mention that the old kerbstones were to be removed and replaced with cast concrete.

The decision, which only became know after a resident telephoned the department, has left home owners perplexed as to why the traditional kerbs, which are likely to have been laid when the houses were built almost 100 years ago, are to be discarded.

Residents are also seeking answers as to what will happen to the hundreds of old kerbs which are in good condition and dispute the department's assertion that the kerbs are a barrier to mobility.

The proposed removal of traditional granite kerbstones has previously resulted in a residents' backlash in other parts of the city.

Lansdowne Park resident, Roddy O'Flaherty said a letter from the department and Transport NI does not state granite kerb stones are to be removed and replaced with grey concrete and also fails to provide any reasoning.

"The granite kerbs are a distinctive feature of the streets of Belfast and are a sought after feature in other towns and cities," he said.

"These newer grey concrete kerbs are not in keeping with the age and style of the houses in our street and it feels as though the department has given minimal notice to ensure these works are forced through, regardless of the impact on the aesthetics to our street."

Mr O'Flaherty, who has lived on the street since 2004, said he had been told of the removal after phoning the department to seek further explanation of the work which is due to begin today.

"I am delighted that we are to have our footways resurfaced as many parts are in need of full width reinstatement, but surely the cost of removing these valuable granite kerbs and the cost of installing concrete kerbs is a potential waste of ratepayer money that could be spent on more valuable infrastructure projects in our area?

Mr O'Flaherty said the department, which only informed residents of the planned works last week, were unable to say if it had audited the condition of the granite kerbs and could not explain why a new footpath surface could not be installed while retaining the original kerbs.

Asked why the department did not inform residents that the granite kerbs were to be removed, a Department of Infrastructure spokeswoman said: "In the case of Lansdowne Park where there currently are higher returned kerbs at each vehicular entrance a decision has been made, in accordance with the policies in place under previous ministers, to remove them to ensure safer access for pedestrians using the footway.

"The use of concrete kerbs is standard practice and is in keeping with what has been used in the adjoining street network. To source and replace the existing granite kerbs would have added a significant cost to the scheme and possibly jeopardised its delivery.

"The department apologises for the delay in notifying residents of the start date of the scheme and for any inconvenience caused."

And in a letter to residents, Infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon said the kerbs were being replaced to ensure "safer access for pedestrians, wheel chair users, prams and buggies using the footway."


She added: "The use of concrete kerbs is standard practice in line with a policy decision made before my time in office. I understand and recognise that some residents may have been upset with the decision on these works. While this was planned ahead of my tenure, on behalf of my Department I apologise for the delay in notifying residents of the start date of the scheme and for any inconvenience caused. Failure to proceed with the resurfacing at this time, I fear could have possible disadvantages for residents by jeopardising any future schemes in the area."


Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news