Date: 21 Sep 2020
A new EU-funded shared community space on the former Finlay’s factory site in west Belfast has been announced today to coincide with the International Day of Peace.
The Black Mountain Shared Space project will be delivered by Belfast City Council thanks to funding from the EU’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Match-funding will be provided by the Department for Communities and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.
The new building will deliver cross community facilities, joint programming and outreach, with the aim of removing physical barriers in the area. It will be operated by Black Mountain Shared Space, an organisation which has been in operation since 2010.
Welcoming the project, which also received support through Belfast City Council’s Belfast Investment Fund, Lord Mayor, Alderman Frank McCoubrey, said: “I am delighted to mark International Day of Peace by announcing details of this brilliant new facility which will remove barriers and help create connections between communities in the Ballygomartin and Springfield areas of the city.
“When it opens in 2023, the new facility will deliver a mix of uses including community programming, sports, offices, meeting and informal gathering spaces for communities to mix and spend time together in an attractive, welcoming and neutral shared space.
“The Belfast Agenda, the city’s long-term community plan, includes aspirations to develop our neighbourhoods, improve community relations and create a welcoming, safe, fair and inclusive city for all. This project will certainly make a significant contribution to those aims.”
Paul Millar, Chairman of Black Mountain Shared Space, said: “This new purpose-built building represents a new chapter for our organisation and it will be an invaluable asset for people in the surrounding communities.
“When we were established in 2010, our primary objective was to improve community relations by working with people on the ground to build relationships, break down barriers and build capacity within the community. This new shared space will allow us to grow and deliver much more through a range of cross-community outreach, education and other community projects.”
Minister for Communities, Carál Ní Chuilín, said: “Located at the foot of the Black Mountain this project will result in the transformation of a previously vacant site into a state of the art shared space facility for the whole community. It will be a great asset as a hub for community development to help build relationships and contribute to the health and wellbeing of the users.
“The Black Mountain Shared Space Project exemplifies what can be achieved through partnership and vision and my Department is delighted to invest in a project that will promote sustainable and meaningful engagement across all communities.”
Heather Humphreys TD Minister of Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands in Ireland, said: “I want to congratulate Belfast City Council and the project partners Black Mountain Shared Space project, Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Northside Partnership in Dublin on their achievements.
“The sharing of knowledge and support between these organisations has created a lasting legacy and I am pleased to see these organisations working together on a cross-border basis for the benefit of the wider community in developing approximately 1.5 hectares of this 4.43 hectare site.
“It will have a transformative effect on the local area by delivering a modern neutral shared facility that will unlock the social, environmental and economic potential of the site. And it will also see the continuation and strengthening of cross border relationships. The awarding of this PEACE IV funding will be a major boost for the area and I know my Department will work with all parties to ensure delivery of this essential project.”
Welcoming the scheme, Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), said: “Many sections of our society still remain segregated, with limited, if any, contact with someone from a different background or culture. This prevents us from moving forward and building a long-term, sustainable peace.
“By creating a new shared, neutral space, this EU PEACE IV-funded project will benefit all sections of the community and enrich the lives of local people. It will encourage the celebration and sharing of different cultural identities, which is essential for the creation of a more cohesive society,” she continued.
For more information on Belfast’s PEACE IV shared spaces capital projects, visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/sharedspaces