14/02/2006

Boost for Belfast's Sandy Row and Greater Village areas

A new multi-purpose sports ground and resource centre are set to be the centrepiece in the transformation of the Sandy Row and Greater Village areas in Belfast.

During a visit to South Belfast today, Social Development Minister, David Hanson unveiled a package of measures aimed at bringing new life into the two districts including new housing in Sandy Row and new business units on a derelict sight on the Donegal Road.

Mr Hanson began today's visit by officially opening the Tree Project on the Donegal Road, which will provide a timber recycling facility and create much needed employment and training opportunities for local people.

Emphasising that he had promised to return to the area, Mr Hanson said: "These two reports lay a solid foundation to deliver real improvement and change. Over 200 of the 300 recommendations identified in them have now been completed or are underway. Only by having this clear plan of action and by working together with local residents will we be successful in making life better for those who live in these areas."

The Minister also announced that H&J Martin had been selected to develop the former Disabled Care site, a derelict site on the Donegal Road, which had been acquired and marketed by Belfast Regeneration Office

An investment of £2.5 million will be spent on building social housing as well as small industrial units on the site which will bring new life and business opportunities to the area, this will be done in collaboration with Belfast Improved Housing and the Greater Village Regeneration Trust.

A new Community Resource Centre is also to be built on Sandy Row by Ravella Properties Limited, involving a partnership between Belfast South Community Resources and the private and statutory sectors.

In addition, the Department for Social Development Belfast Regeneration Office has approved funding for a new £650,000 multi purpose sports ground on a site beside the Charter Youth Club with support from Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and Belfast City Council.

Housing in Sandy Row will also receive a major boost, with an announcement of over 230 new homes being built as part of the £8million invested by the DSD since 2000.

David Hanson said tackling deprivation is a challenge for everyone. He said: "We have made a good start but there is still much to be done which will require the active engagement and involvement of local residents. This exciting package of initiatives will take time to complete but will ultimately bring real and lasting change to people in Sandy Row and Greater Village."

The Minister concluded that the redevelopments were never meant to be the solution to all the problems of these areas, but would provide a solid foundation that will allow improvements to be delivered over the coming months and years.

(EF/SP)

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