Monday, 15 March 2010

Developing the land left at Mountpottinger

Myself, Patrick Devlin (Chair - St Matthews Housing Association) and Joe O'Donnell (Director Short Strand Partnership) ahead of our meeting with PSNI ACC Alastair Finlay

Since the closure of the Mountpottinger Barracks as an ‘operational’ PSNI facility, community representatives in the Short Strand have continued to work diligently in trying to secure the land for the development of much needed social and family homes.

While one campaign was successful, another one began.

As revealed to my comrade Alex Maskey at last weeks Policing Board meeting, the site of the Barracks will begin to be demilitarised over the summer. While that will be a welcome development for the community, the last thing we want to see is a similar situation to that of the land vacated by the Andersontown Barracks site.

The wheels of the community’s plan are well and truly in motion.

As a member of the Short Strand Partnership Board’s ‘Housing and Physical Improvement Sub-Group’ I have been involved in the discussions around ‘what next?’ for this site. Sinn Féin and the Short Strand community campaigned for years and ultimately secured the closure of the Mountpottinger Barracks, now the campaign is to ensure that the land that will inevitably become available is acquired by the Housing Minister Margaret Ritchie for the development on the site.

That is what the community wants, that is what the community needs.

Sinn Féin’s approach to the development of the Mountpottinger Barracks site is part of our overall strategic view for development within the Short Strand community. The potential for development at the Translink Bus Depot, the Sirocco Quays site and our community’s interaction with this site and the Titanic Quarter development all feature in our view for the area in the period ahead.

All of this must be in line with how we continue our social and community based interaction with the rest of east Belfast.

Today I joined fellow members of the Partnership’s Housing sub-group, Joe O’Donnell (Director – Short Strand Partnership) and Patrick Devlin (Chair – St Matthews Housing Association) in meeting with the PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alastair Finlay to discuss the plans for the demilitarisation of the base and ultimately its demolition.

Over the coming weeks and months I intend to outline some of the far thinking and strategic plans that could be developed and help improve the lives of citizens in the Short Strand area and those who live in broader inner East Belfast generally.

Today’s meeting was useful; I look forward to continued engagement with the stakeholders but most importantly, my neighbours in the Trá Ghearr. Next on the list is the Strategic Investment Board.

I’ll keep you all up to date.

Beirigí Bua!

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