30/08/2007

Minister Announces New Belfast Regeneration Steps

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie MLA has announced two further stages in the regeneration of Belfast City Centre today.

The Minister announced that she has commissioned a masterplan to look at the regeneration needs of the South West Shopping Quarter including the important Castle Street route.

She also said that a regeneration programme - reSTORE DC - which she had seen during her recent visit to Washington will be piloted in the Castle Street area.

The Minister said: “The reSTORE DC programme has been very successful in regenerating areas of Washington and I have asked my officials to develop a Northern Ireland version which will be piloted in Castle Street and other selected urban centres across Northern Ireland. This is a very exciting programme which with the aid of targeted technical and funding assistance, aims to revitalise neighbourhood commercial districts and small businesses."

Implementation of the Masterplan and reSTORE pilot is subject to economic appraisal, funding availability and satisfying all necessary statutory requirements including, in the case of the masterplan, general compliance with the NI Regional Development Strategy.

Speaking about the project, Ms Ritchie said: "The masterplanning exercise is an important stage in this process and will take forward our approach to the regeneration of the South West Quarter as set out in the DSD Regeneration Policy Statement published in 2004. It also builds on the £16 million investment in improving the streetscape in the area which I launched in June under the 'Belfast: Streets Ahead' programme."

The Minister said that the consultants who will carry out the masterplanning will be appointed during September 2007 and it is hoped to produce a draft for public consultation by March 2008.

The consultants will seek the views of statutory and private sector interests, particularly those who trade or have land holdings in the area.

Ms Ritchie added: "The South West Quarter Masterplan will complement the masterplanning underway in the adjacent Lower Falls and Lower Shankill neighbourhoods. I also intend to publish in the autumn, the approach I plan to take to the regeneration of the North West Quarter Part 2 area of the City Centre, which covers Library Quarter, Browns Square and Carrick Hill following consideration of representations received during public consultation earlier this year."

Residents including those who live in adjacent neighbourhoods will also be consulted.

(SB/SP)

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