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Creating a catalyst

Published: Fri, 26 Aug 2016
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Joanna Felo & Seamus Corr, Blackmountain Shared Space Project are pictured with our own Niall Eastwood
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Transforming a derelict piece of land which is an interface area into a shared vibrant space which will link the communities of Upper Shankill (Highfield/Springmartin/Woodvale) with Upper Springfield is the goal of the Blackmountain Shared Space Project.
Earlier this year the initiative received an investment of £50,000 from the Housing Executive’s Social Housing Enterprise scheme to help further this aim.
The Blackmountain Shared Space Project has ambitious proposals for Finlay’s Site which include job creation, enterprise development, play area, education and training facility as well as a small number of homes. Belfast City Council has purchased the site for the development and is helping the group to move forward with their proposals. Meanwhile the International Fund for Ireland is also supporting the initiative and encouraging new thinking on interface structures whilst enhancing cross-community links.
Our investment is being used to expand consultation with the local community, appoint an integrated design team to draw up the proposals for the site’s development, to work on the planning application process, create a business plan for the site and to create a scale model of how the site might look after work is completed.
Paddy Kelly, local Housing Services Manager, said:
“The Housing Executive is about more than bricks and mortar. We work in partnership with others to foster vibrant communities by investing in initiatives we believe will help transform people’s lives. The Blackmountain Shared Space Project’s vision for their area will help address issues of employability, environment management, housing and investment all of which are areas we wish to help address through our Social Housing Enterprise scheme.”
Seamus Corr of Blackmountain Shared Space Project said:
“Finlay’s site, the area identified for transformation, has the potential to offer a place for those living nearby to connect, live, work and play.  The area could provide local people with health and well-being provision and education opportunities as well as enterprise/employment support and homes.  I’d like to thank the Housing Executive for their support which has been invaluable in taking the first step in realising our goal for Finlay’s Site.  We look forward to working with them, IFI, Belfast City Council and other partners on this project.”
William McQuiston of Highfield Residents Association said:
“Transforming what is an interface area into a community asset is at the core of this work. We want to see the local community enjoy and prosper from this site as well as see the mountain behind better utilised by everyone. I’d like to give my vote of thanks to the Housing Executive for their investment in our project as well as the support we’ve received from IFI and Belfast City Council.”  
The public consultation on the proposed development continues until Friday 16 September 2016.
If you would like to see the plans or make a comment, contact Blackmountain Shared Space Project on: T: 028 9031 2922 or at Unit 29 Farset Enterprise Park, 638 Springfield Rd, Belfast, BT12 7DY.