Lower Falls forum update - August 2022

Maureen Sheehan Centre (MSC) & Surrounding Area Environmental Improvement Scheme

Works at MSC are ongoing and include safe and secure car parking as well as improvements to roads, paths, walls and fencing and the provision of lighting and CCTV.  The works have the additional goal of sealing access to MSC from various points to help decrease anti-social behaviour in that area. 

The project works officially began in early May this year.  The original start date was February 2022 but issues with underground cables and diversion works have meant delays.  A diversion programme was agreed and paid for in advance by BSC and the diversion works concluded in late April 2022.  Palisade fencing was erected followed by on-site works at the Roumania Rise side which started in late May.  Reduced dig works started at the carpark area week commencing 27/06/22 and the project is on schedule for completion at the end of September. 

Roumania Rise (Radius Housing)

As part of the overall improvements to the MSC area Radius has agreed to build 2 units of housing and manage the associated street works at Roumania Rise.  BSC has provided funding for extraordinary costs over and above normal anticipated expenses for the construction.  Radius has employed Studiorogers on a contract for the design of the two housing units and this will progress as a separate procurement exercise to the MSC environmental improvements.  

Radius has declared their intention to align the Roumania Rise housing works with the Ross Street development in this financial year. 

Roumania Rise Housing Planning Permission was granted in January 2020. 

Ross Street Redevelopment (NIHE)

NIHE lead this BSC part-funded project, which is in close proximity to the MSC. 

Agreement is in place that the rear pathway between the existing Ross Street flats and the proposed new MSC car park should be permanently closed – this area will become generous sized rear gardens in the proposed new build layout.  Existing footfall will be redirected via Servia Street.  This should remove the ongoing issue of anti-social behaviour in this space and provide secure backs for the new properties.  

Demolition of the flats concluded in February and NIHE has since secured the site with palisade fencing using the BSC MSC contractor.

Radius Housing Association submitted a planning application in November 2021 for 22 new dwellings to replace the flats at Ross Street and planning approval has since been granted Ross Street Planning Permission.  Radius hope that a contractor can be on site early October 2022. 

Westlink Footbridge Cage Covering Replacement Request

BSC contacted DfI in 2021 and asked – in light of recent improvements in the area including Páirc an Lonnáin and the restructuring of the footbridge access ramp - could we have replacement cage covering at the Westlink footbridge.  Fra McCann had written to the Minister for Infrastructure about the matter as well around the same time.

DfI agreed to forward a Feasibility Brief for a costing to their Consultants for consideration in the 2021/2022 financial year and would inform us of their decision.  The 2021/2022 date passed, but BSC has continued to regularly ask DfI for updates.  DfI Highways Structures Unit (HSU) has been carrying out an options study based on the original BSC feasibility report.  The study required a detailed analysis of the structure to be undertaken to ensure that the most appropriate option is taken forward.  HSU were to undertake trial breakouts on the cantilevers and parapet upstands of the bridge as part of their study.

DfI responded once again to BSC in June this year to state that our request to them to consider replacing the cage of the footbridge has once again been postponed.  The reason this time was budget restrictions.  BSC wrote to local reps to inform them of the disappointing news and we will continue to request that DfI considers replacement of the cage covering.

Westlink Back Path Environmental Improvement Scheme

The Back Path sports zone project has completed and responsibility was handed over to Belfast City Council last year.  The BCC Park naming procedure concluded and the new park has been named Páirc an Lonnáin. The official opening took place in November 2021 with DfC Minister Deirdre Hargey and Belfast Lord Mayor Kate Nicholl in attendance. 

The park comprises sport and leisure facilities including a gym, running track and Multi-use Games Area.  There is also play equipment, a seating area and a community garden.  The facility is operational and clubs are making use of it.  Immaculata Boxing & Football Clubs have been active in the facility with both their junior and senior members enjoying the benefits. 

The contractor recently carried out a review of snagging issues (one year after completion) and some minor maintenance issues were highlighted.  These matters should be resolved very soon.

After £1m investment, abandoned Falls pathway reborn as Páirc an Lonnáin (belfastmedia.com)


Back to top