14/01/2003

East Belfast regeneration boosted with new HQ

A dynamic partnership between local communities, statutory agencies and the private sector is the most effective way to harness resources and bring change to disadvantaged areas, according to NIO minister Des Browne.

Mr Browne was speaking at the official opening of Bloomfield House in the Holywood Arches area of the Newtownards Road in east Belfast. The building, formerly Irvine’s shoe shop, has been converted into new headquarters for the East Belfast Partnership, jointly funded by the Department for Social Development (DSD) and the International Fund for Ireland.

The project was led by Landmark East, a non-profit making company set up by the Partnership. Accommodation at Bloomfield House includes offices on the upper floors and retail space on the ground floor, and is designed to provide a focus in East Belfast for further regeneration.

The refurbishment of the premises was assisted by an Urban Development Grant of £222,246 made through the Belfast Regeneration Office of the DSD and a further £204,000 from the International Fund for Ireland.

The Minister said: “The new premises are a fine example of partnership between the community and funding organisations such as the Belfast Regeneration Office and International Fund for Ireland.

“The Holywood Arches area has seen significant physical, economic and social change over the years but I am confident that the relocation of the East Belfast Partnership will create a positive impact and act as a catalyst to others who wish to invest economically and socially.

“I believe that organisations such as the East Belfast Partnership are valuable partners in the delivery of urban regeneration. We must work together to address the problems facing people in east Belfast. We all have responsibilities.

"It is only by the co-operation of all parties that we will strengthen the weak community infrastructure and contribute to a rise in economic activity and prosperity.”

Speaking at the official opening, International Fund for Ireland Chairman William McCarter said: "The project is having a major economic and environmental impact on a main arterial route and will, I am sure, stimulate further social and economic regeneration in this disadvantaged area of east Belfast."

East Belfast Partnership is one of the Belfast Area Partnerships set up under the Making Belfast Work strategy to create a city-wide partnership involving government departments, councils, public bodies and the private and voluntary sectors.

Landmark East was established in 1998 by the East Belfast Partnership, as a not-for-profit company to develop unused sites and work towards sustainable regeneration.

(GMcG)

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