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Area ‘forgotten’ in Malone design guide

By Scott Jamison

A South Belfast residents’ group has called on a major design guide for a local conservation area to be changed in order to include their community, which they claim has been “forgotten about”.

The Old Stranmillis Residents’ Association (OSRA), which covers the lower Stranmillis area from the Stranmillis roundabout towards the Malone Road, was not included in the Malone Conservation Area Design Guide, which was released last month.

The guide, which is designed to protect the built heritage of South Belfast by directing planners to what should be allowed when it comes to planning applications, has created 13 sub-areas, each with their own statutorily protected identity. However, despite being included in previous draft versions of the conservation area, the grounds of Stranmillis College have been left out of the official character appraisal.

OSRA spokesperson Andrew Charles said locals in the community were questioning why the change had been made.

“Stranmillis College has always been seen as an area of conservation. But this land has now been removed from this plan and one has to wonder why. Several years ago a proposal to place Stranmillis Primary School within the college grounds was turned down because of the desire to conserve the grounds. We are wondering why that has now changed.

“Furthermore, the wider Stranmillis area, from the roundabout up the Stranmillis Road including Ridgeway Street and Mount Prospect, should also be in the conservation area as some buildings like St Bartholomew’s Church are of great architectural interest and should be protected.”

Andrew said he believed the Stranmillis area had been “forgotten about” by the planners.

“The likes of Wellington Park has been added in which is a good thing and must certainly be welcomed but in the meantime Stranmillis has been left out and no-one has brought it up to the Planning Service so we feel ignored.

“Stranmillis is full of the built heritage we feel should be protected in South Belfast. Areas such as Deramore have been partially destroyed because of a lack of protection over the years and unless Stranmillis is added to the conservation area, the same could happen to it.”

A Planning Service spokesperson said the published design guide provided “a more cohesive, consolidated area of architectural and historic interest” and took into account changes since the draft conservation area was originally designated in 2000.

“The production of the design guide involved a public consultation exercise which finished on February 28. Twenty-two representations were received and a small number of representations expressed concern about the removal of the grounds at Stranmillis College.

“However, we considered the buildings and spaces at the grounds were not a component element of the townscape that contributes to the special architectural or historic character of the Malone Conservation Area and the open space and landscaping elements are afforded adequate protection by current policies.

“Therefore we consider the exclusion of the grounds at Stranmillis College from the final boundary as justified.”




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