Incubation units to attract new business into West Belfast

Ambitious plans for the old Mackies site

By Francesca Ryan

A West Belfast community group has unveiled ambitious plans for small business units on a vacant site. The Belfast Interface Trust (West) has drawn up plans for a deserted wasteland on the Springfield Road. The Invest NI-owned land at the old Mackies site has been lying derelict for a number of years, attracting anti-social elements who use the sizeable interface territory as a springboard for launching cross-community unrest.

Daniel Jack from the group says it’s high time something was done about the site.

“This land has been an ongoing problem for about eight to ten years,” he said.  “It will continue to be a problem while it is vacant and the community is done with firefighting the issues.

“We hope these plans for business incubation units will create a discussion for what needs to happen here because while it is dead space, both sides of the community will suffer.”

Jim McVeigh from the Clonard Residents’ Association says there have been discussions with Belfast City Council and Invest NI about the site.

“We would be very keen to see this site developed,” he said.  “It straddles some of the most deprived areas in the city and the time has come for action. These plans for business incubation units show that the site could be put to great use as there have been calls from the local business community for precisely this type of development. We hope these plans will open discussion for the best way forward for this site that has been neglected for far too long.”

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