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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Michael Kenwood

Belfast Council asking Stormont why University Road footpath to be 'abandoned'

Belfast Council is asking Stormont to explain why it has made an order to abandon a stretch of footpath on University Road from public ownership.

At the recent meeting of the Belfast City Council Planning Committee, questions were raised about an order made by the Stormont Department for Infrastructure to abandon an area of 26.5 square metres of footway in front of 29 University Road, South Belfast.

The public footway is in front of an unused three-storey former office building, opposite the Tesco Express. It is in between the 3 Levels restaurant, and a former restaurant, Blaze Glaze, now unused after fire damage.

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The order was before the council for noting only. The Stormont department gave statutory notice of the order in the three Northern Ireland daily newspapers on January 25th and February 1st this year

A Stormont letter to the Council states: “The DfI, being of the opinion that the road is not necessary for road traffic, gives notice of its intention to make an order under Article 68 of the Roads (Northern Ireland) Order 1993, the effect of which would be to abandon an area of 26.5 square metres of footway in front of No. 29 University Road.” The department included a map of the abandoned footway.

At the City Hall Planning Committee this week, Green Councillor Áine Groogan told the chamber: “We have made requests in the past that we would get an explanation on these. It isn’t a particularly wide bit of public footpath, I am just wondering why that is being abandoned by the department.

“I know it is in front of a development site, and I am wondering if that has anything to do with it. But I would like an explanation.”

Planning Committee Chair, SDLP Councillor Carl Whyte said: “I have asked for a report before on what these were, but there is not a requirement (for explanation), and I do agree with Councillor Groogan. We just get letters (from the Department) stating “this is it” - with no explanation.

“Interestingly, there are statutory rules which have been published which I was told couldn’t be done without the Assembly, but that is clearly not true. We can write and ask in the future to provide a reason or some information as to why they are seeking an abandonment order.”

Councillor Groogan said: “Once something becomes abandoned it is very difficult to find responsibility. We know the problems in the city with unadopted or abandoned alleyways, and I would hate to think this starts to happen in other bits of public space. So I would like some justification as to why we are abandoning public footpaths.”

The council resolved to write to the Stormont Department for Infrastructure to receive details as to why the University Road footpath was being taken away from public ownership, and to ask for explanations with all subsequent abandonment orders.


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