Go-ahead for Belfast football stadium revamp

Plans for the redevelopment of the Windsor Park football ground in south Belfast have been approved by Northern Ireland's environment minister Alex Attwood.

Windsor Park: artist's impression of the proposed redevelopment
Windsor Park: artist's impression of the proposed redevelopment

The application, submitted by the Irish Football Association (IFA), was for the redevelopment of Windsor Park to an 18,000 seated capacity stadium, including the erection of two new stands and the refurbishment of existing north and west stands with associated internal accommodation including corporate facilities and concession areas.

The Department for Environment said permission for the major Article 31 application was granted within 11 weeks of the application being submitted. Article 31 applications must be signed off by the minister.

Attwood said: "This ambitious, exciting project is important in sporting terms to everyone in Northern Ireland and will also create employment opportunities for local people, particularly during the construction process.

"This is why I made sure that we were in a position to turn it around quickly. My officials worked with the project team and key consultees for months before the application was submitted, clearing any hurdles. This ensured a quality application and therefore a speedy process.

"The local community were also very much involved before I made my decision. I asked the Irish FA to extensively engage with the local community before they submitted their planning application. This they did meaning that local people had a say in the design of the stadium."

The IFA said work on the project will begin in September 2013.

The Northern Ireland Executive has pledged of up to £110 million of government funding for the redevelopment of Belfast’s three sports stadiums at Ravenhill, Windsor Park and Casement Park.

Consultancy RPS advised on the planning application.

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