Northern Ireland news

€6.3m 'shared community space' announced for west Belfast factory site

An artist's impression of the new Black Mountain Shared Space, which is planned to open in 2023.
Paul Ainsworth

A multi-million pound "shared community space" is to be built at a former factory site in west Belfast.

The Black Mountain Shared Space project has been announced for the former Finlay's packaging factory at Ballygomartin Road, with the €6.3m scheme aiming to "unlock the social, environmental and economic potential" of the site.

The facility, which is scheduled to open in 2023, will provide office space, sports and recreational areas for local communities to "mix and spend time together in an attractive, welcoming and neutral shared space".

Unveiled today, to coincide with International Day of Peace, funding comes from the EU's Peace IV Programme, along with the Republic's Department of Rural and Community Development and Stormont's Department for Communities.

It will be managed by the Black Mountain Shared Space cross-community association.

Chairman Paul Millar said: "This new purpose-built building represents a new chapter for our organisation and it will be an invaluable asset for people in the surrounding communities.

"When we were established in 2010, our primary objective was to improve community relations by working with people on the ground to build relationships, break down barriers and build capacity within the community.

"This new shared space will allow us to grow and deliver much more through a range of cross-community outreach, education and other community projects."

Communities minister Carál Ní Chuilín said: "Located at the foot of the Black Mountain, this project will result in the transformation of a previously vacant site into a state-of-the-art shared space facility for the whole community."

Irish Minister of Social Protection Heather Humphreys also said it will see the strengthening of cross-border relationships.

Belfast Lord Mayor Frank McCoubrey said the site "will remove barriers and help create connections between communities in the Ballygomartin and Springfield areas of the city".

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