Chair of Casement Park redevelopment expresses ‘deep frustration’ at delays
Former Ulster chairman draws attention to the fact that other sports in North have finished upgrades to their flagship stadiums
Casement Park in Belfast. Its redevelopment was originally envisaged as having a 2015 completion date. Photograph: Getty Images
The chairman of Casement Park Project Board has written to GAA units in Ulster to express concern at the continuing delays to the Belfast stadium’s redevelopment due to the planning process. He also reiterated his hopes that the work can begin in 2020.
Former Ulster chairman Tom Daly from Donegal has been leading the project – originally envisaged as having a 2015 completion date – since its inception. It has been controversially delayed on a number of occasions, including by a court case in 2014.
Even the current application is nearing its third anniversary, as Daly points out in his letter.
“I am writing to you to communicate our deep frustration that the plans for a new provincial stadium at Casement Park continue to be encumbered by a prolonged planning process.
“Monday [November 25th] marks 1,000 days since Ulster GAA submitted its planning application in February 2017 for an iconic new provincial stadium in Belfast which would deliver the last strand of the Regional Stadia Development Programme, a key commitment within the NI Executive’s programme for government.”
Daly also draws attention to the fact that other sports have completed the upgrading of their flagship facilities.
“The completion of Kingspan Ravenhill stadium for Ulster Rugby and the Irish Football Association’s Windsor Park stadium is bringing significant benefits to their members and to wider society, and it is obvious that the provision of modern infrastructure has helped develop the profile and standing of both sports.”
He also says that the board wrote to the department for infrastructure, raising concerns about and querying delays in the process.
“While we welcome the department’s response which recognised our frustration and indicated that the process will soon be drawing to a close, we remain focused on ensuring our members are provided with absolute clarity on when, and by whom, a decision will be made.
“Thereafter, subject to planning approval and securing the additional investment required to deliver the project, we remain hopeful that work could commence in 2020 at Casement Park.”
The letter also laid out key features of the proposed new stadium:
– to be developed by global award-winning architect Populous, designers of Tottenham Hotspur, Emirates and Aviva stadiums;
– a proposed capacity of 34,500 inclusive of 8,500 standing, with roof capacity for all spectators;
– an iconic bowl design;
– an education and heritage centre, conference facilities and social club.