The new president of Ulster GAA has set himself the goal of commencing the redevelopment of Casement Park during his term. The facility is to be Northern Ireland's national stadium for Gaelic sports. However, it will not be easy to put the plans into practice.
It seemed last summer that nothing would stop construction from starting in 2022. On July 28, Infrastructure Minister Nicola Mallon gave the stadium a planning permission. The venue was to have a capacity of 34,578 that was 3,422 less than in the original concept. However, some residents did not like this proposal and decided to take legal action against it.
It should be recalled that the planning permission was previously granted for a 38,000 capacity Casement Park in 2013. Unfortunately, in 2014 approval was quashed in a High Court legal challenge brought by MORA (Mooreland and Owenvarragh Residents' Association).
This time, MORA also decided to take legal action against the future stadium. They believe that the construction of the facility will negatively affect the traffic in the neighborhood, increase the noise level and significantly reduce the number of parking spaces. The residents' association is also questioning the planned height of the arena.
Due to opponents of the Casement Park redevelopment, the project is to be subject to a judicial review in March. It is difficult to predict at this point whether this will result in another significant delay in implementation or whether their requests will be rejected.
The fact is that stadium planning has been going on for almost 10 years and most people in West Belfast are tired of it. MORA members do not want to let go. They only accept a stadium with a maximum capacity of 20,000 and a much lower height than the one currently planned. In addition to opponents of construction, there is also a large group of supporters who have recently met with the president of Ulster GAA.
Construction of the arena is expected to cost at least £110 million. Investment financing is not yet secured, which could mean scaling down the stadium size through capacity reduction.
Author: Tomasz Sobura