By Kieran Hughes

The proposed new ‘community hub’ at the former Girdwood barracks site should be part of a wide-ranging development to address housing and leisure inequalities, a local councillor has said.

Belfast City Council last week announced plans to create a multi-use building on part of the Crumlin Road site with leisure facilities, a café, community garden and other facilities.

With the waiting list for social housing for nationalists in North Belfast at crisis point and the lack of leisure facilities here, the site has long been identified by local housing groups as a prime location for development.

Sinn Féin Councillor Danny Lavery said his party has consistently pressed for the unique opportunity that exists at the vacant site of Girdwood to be grasped.

“This can be a win-win for the whole community and would regenerate not just the surrounding area but the wider city,” he said.

“The hub is an interesting concept that we support but crucial to that will be its content and location. The major leisure and housing inequalities in this constituency could be significantly impacted by investment at Girdwood along with the development of Mater Hospital facilities, jobs and education.”

He said for Girdwood to succeed the whole North Belfast community must benefit from it.

“While we all have our own views and priorities, inaction is no longer an option. With positive working and co-operation I’m confident all barriers to progress can be tackled.”

The council’s funding application for the hub is in the final stages of assessment by the Special European Union Programmes Body, under its Peace III Programme.

Ahead of a final decision the council will be organising a series of public engagement events to hear locals views on what they would like to see in the building. A newsletter has also been sent to houses in the north and west of the city to give people more information about the planned hub.

Further information and the programme of events is available on Belfast City Council’s website www.belfastcity.gov.uk/girdwoodhub

 

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