Northern Ireland

Casement Park: Residents group opposes new plans for west Belfast stadium

An aerial view of the new stadium Image copyright Gaa
Image caption An aerial view of the proposed stadium at Casement Park

A west Belfast residents group has said it opposes fresh plans to redevelop Casement Park.

The new plans unveiled by the GAA proposed a capacity of 34,500, down by 3,500 on the original plans.

However, the Mooreland and Owenvarragh Residents Association (MORA) said this is "not a significant reduction".

The original Casement Park plans collapsed in 2014 after a legal challenge by MORA.

The GAA said it was "very disappointed" by the residents group's response.

In a statement, the residents group said it supported a "suitable-sized redevelopment" that was safe, did not host concerts and was "part of the natural fabric of the community".

Image copyright GAA
Image caption MORA said Casement Park's proposed capacity was almost double that recommended in a report by the emergency services

"The revised proposals for the redevelopment of Casement Park do not meet those requirements," it said.

"The safe capacity of the ground is in the range of 11,239 to 18,264.

"That is the considered view of a report jointly submitted to the Safety Technical Group (STG) in January 2016 by the PSNI, NI Ambulance Service and the NI Fire and Rescue Service."

It said the GAA's proposed stadium was "almost twice the capacity" of that assessment and that the new plans had not been signed off by the STG.

MORA also said it was "extremely concerning" that the revised proposals provide for a "two-thirds increase in the number of 'non-sporting events".

The residents group said it would "continue to engage in the consultation process".

"However, we believe that the GAA should acknowledge the very constrained nature of the Casement Park site and propose a redevelopment that is in keeping with its surroundings."

The GAA said its proposed design "reduces height, scale and capacity".

Image caption An aerial view of the old Casement Park stadium

"We are therefore very disappointed with MORA's response but encouraged by the significant positive feedback we have received from the community including many local residents.

"We look forward to consulting with MORA as well as all stakeholders across west Belfast, Belfast and throughout Ulster during stage two of our consultation."

The Andersonstown Regeneration Committee (ARC) said it welcomed the new design and said the GAA had "listened and taken on board many of the concerns of the past".

"We have spoken to many people this week since the announcement from the GAA was made.

"The vast majority of residents of Andersonstown are talking about it and there is plenty of positivity and excitement that this development will be on our doorstep within the next few years."

The multi-million pound Casement Park project has been beset with problems and delays.

A whistleblower, safety expert Paul Scott, claimed he was bullied when he raised concerns that, under the initial plans, the stadium could not be evacuated safely in emergencies.

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