As we approach that time of year when club and county committees throughout Ulster host conventions/AGM’s to review 2019 activities, 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 (25th November) 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.
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. At Ulster GAA we are determined that 250,000 association members and new visitors to our games will enjoy similar benefits once the long-standing commitment made to us by Government are fulfilled, with the Casement Park project contributing significantly to sporting, cultural and economic prosperity.
Earlier this year we wrote to the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) to express our concerns about the planning process and the length of time it was taking some statutory bodies to respond to information requests. 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.
We can also confirm that we have submitted our final draft version of the business case for the project to the Department for Communities (DfC) and look forward to its continued progression through inter-departmental processes to the Department of Finance (DoF). 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.
Everyone at Ulster GAA is resolutely committed to the delivery of this project and to ensuring you, our members, benefit from the investment in major stadium infrastructure with a modern fit for purpose Provincial Stadium and a new home for Antrim gaelic games. We will continue to work with all stakeholders to satisfactorily conclude the planning assessment process and the commencement of the next phase of the project’s development.
In the meantime, on behalf of the Casement Park Project Board and Ulster GAA, I would like to sincerely thank you for your support and patience and I would ask that you continue to voice your support for the project as we seek to deliver a provincial home we can all be proud of.
The key features of the new stadium are included below:
• Developed by global Award-winning architect Populous, designers of Tottenham Hotspur, Emirates and Aviva stadiums
• Proposed capacity of 34,500 inclusive of 8,500 standing with roof capacity for all spectators
• Iconic bowl design
• Education & heritage centre, conference facilities and social club
Chairman, Casement Park Project Board