Lower Falls forum update - October 2020

The updates below are the most up to date positions advised to BSC. However, it should be noted that due to the current health emergency things are fast moving, and timescales may slip/change.

Westlink Back Path Environmental Improvement Scheme

The contractor (CivCo) has been on site since 22 June 2020 and work is underway. Unfortunately progress on site has been delayed and the estimated completion date is now 31 January 2021.

The drainage layout was revised due to locations of services/culvert and there was subsequent adjustments to drainage design.

Work at the footbridge access ramp was delayed pending DfI approval; there were further delays when in demolishing the ramp CivCo uncovered a concrete pier in the existing ramp and had to adjust to meet DfI requirements.

Permission to access the Raidió Fáilte owned land at the Frank Gillen Centre has not yet been granted. Discussions, to obtain the necessary licence, between Cleaver Fulton Rankin (Raidió Fáilte Solicitor) and the Departmental Solicitor (DSO) are ongoing. Work at that area, which was planned to be completed early on in the project, has therefore been significantly delayed. Added to that, the licence negotiations highlighted that additional planning permission was required for this area as it had not been included within the original planning approval.

BSC has been in touch with DSO, almost on a daily basis regarding the licence, and have been assured by them that an agreement is close. DSO are awaiting a response from Cleaver Fulton and Rankin to agree a final draft.

McAdam Design submitted a new planning application on 3rd September 2020. Since then BSC has been in regular contact with McAdam and asked that they liaise with Belfast City Council to request an urgent granting of approval. BSC has contacted the planning office within BCC directly to explain the situation and express our hope that consideration and approval can be obtain quickly. BSC has also contacted the local Councillor, Tina Black, to outline the situation and Tina has raised our concern within the local council.

Despite the delays and unforeseen events the work is ongoing on the general site and progress is being made.

Maureen Sheehan Centre (MSC) & surrounding area Environmental Improvements including Roumania Rise Housing Scheme

The MSC Planning Application was approved on 29 October 2018.

Unfortunately the MSC project hasn’t moved forward since the pandemic arrived and is still at final design stage.

Planning Permission for Roumania Rise Housing Scheme was granted on 23 January 2020. BSC continues to engage with Radius to see how we can help move this on as it is a vital part of the overall improvements at MSC.

The detailed design stage for the EI works at and around MSC was halted due to COVID-19 but BSC intends to pick up on this again very soon. Once the detailed design has been agreed it is envisaged that the procurement process can commence.





Ross Street Flats Redevelopment


DfC approved the Business Case on 29th August 2019.


NIHE lead a Steering Group on the Ross Street Flats and David Brown has continued to provide updates by e-mail during the Covid pandemic and will continue to do so. The following is the latest update provided by David:


NIHE Tenants: 12 properties vacated; 3 tenants have made alternative arrangements. 12 tenancies remaining (of total 27) – sourcing alternative transfer accommodation ongoing. Block 34-36 was fire damaged recently.


Owner Occupiers/ private rented: 1 application recently received but value being sought by applicant needs to be reviewed internally, 1 further application recently received and proceeding to internal approval of the valuation. 4 properties have now been agreed/purchased by NIHE, 1 has an agreement in place but is currently with solicitors (total of 7).


Demolition: Initial consultant survey work on brief for demolition contractor was initiated prior to lockdown but the timescales have had to be extended; consultant tender is now due back mid- October; it’s fair to assume there will be some further delay in timescale but we are confident demolition can commence (assuming full clearance) in the first quarter of the 2021 financial year.


Newbuild scheme: Radius HA are moving towards appointing a design team; once in place there will be some initial meetings to discuss key issues with the subgroup; these are likely to be remote, but may involve a smaller number of individuals meeting on site – tbc based on government/ statutory guidance at the time.

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