Ulster GAA has welcomed correspondence received from the Department for Infrastructure this week, which says that in the absence of a Minister, the Department may make the final decision on the Casement Park planning application.
Whilst welcoming this development, the GAA has expressed its frustration at the time it is taking to conclude the assessment process. The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has acknowledged the delay and has confirmed that responses will be issued as soon as possible.
Commenting on the delay Tom Daly, Chairman Casement Park Project Board, said:
"The planning application for the redevelopment of Casement Park was submitted in February 2017, yet over two years later the length of time it is taking for some statutory bodies to respond to the planning authority is a cause of frustration within our project team and across the wider GAA community.
Our expert team has worked closely with the Department for Communities (DfC) to support all requirements within the planning process. We implemented government recommendations in full, extensively consulted and produced a highly detailed and comprehensive planning submission to ensure the planning authority had all the information it required to make an informed decision on our plans to deliver upon the strategic stadium needs of our members and our communities.
Ulster GAA recognises and fully respects the required due diligence by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) and all statutory consultees. However, the prolonged nature of the planning process is stalling the project's progress and is also impacting its budgetary estimate which is now likely to be in the region of £110m. With every day of delay pushing out the earliest possible start on site for the project it is imperative that government departments discharge their responsibilities as expediently as possible to mitigate against increased costs.
Ulster GAA is resolutely committed to the delivery of this project and to addressing the frustrations of our members and their communities' that Gaelic Games remains the only sport which has not had its strategic stadium needs delivered within the Regional Stadia Programme, a Programme for Government priority.
We will continue to work closely with the Department for Communities and while we acknowledge the challenges, not least the negative impact upon communities that have yet to benefit from the investment in major stadium infrastructure, we look forward to an efficient completion of the planning process and the commencement of the next phase of the project's development.
Everyone at Ulster GAA would like to thank our members and our communities for their continued support throughout this process and we place on record our unambiguous commitment to ensure that Belfast will have a world-class stadium for Gaelic Games to serve the needs of the GAA in Ulster, Antrim and throughout Ireland long into the future."
The new scheme, developed by global award winning architects Populous, plans to transform Casement Park with an enhanced atmosphere and iconic new stadium bowl, providing an iconic GAA stadium in Belfast. The mixed use facility proposes a range of resources to advance the economic, cultural and heritage opportunities for the local community, incorporating the following features:
• Fully covered spectator accommodation for a capacity of circa 34, 500
• Covered seating for 26,000+ spectators and covered standing accommodation for circa 8,200
• Ultra-modern amenities for spectators including restaurants and bars
• Modern facilities for players including six changing rooms, warm-up facilities and a players' lounge
• Non-match day facilities to cater for community and business events
• Cultural, heritage and community facilities
• Indoor handball alleys
• A modern GAA Social Club facility
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