Fenian Voice

Ulster Star
25 May 2004

57 proposals for Maze prison site

A TOTAL of 57 proposals for the development of the site of the former
Maze Prison have been received by the Consultation Panel appointed to
look into the matter.

This emerged at a meeting of the panel held at the regeneration site
at the beginning of last month during which the Chairman David
Campbell and other members expressed satisfaction at the number of
proposals made.

The meeting heard an initial `sift' of the proposals identified broad
patterns of consensus on themes for development.

It was decided the panel should hold another meeting to decide which
of the proposals should be invited to give presentations.

Those present felt a full day should then be set aside for these
presentations to take place.

However, it was stressed these were not `winning bids' but rather a
chance to explore proposals in more detail.

It was also felt the Panel should decide in the meantime what it was
expecting to learn from these presentations and have clear success

A number of panel members asked questions about organisations and
bodies which had not declared an interest.

These included the Sports Council, the Arts Council, the Northern
Ireland Tourist Board and museums bodies.

Members were told it was presumed they were waiting to see what broad
recommendations were coming forward before entering into the process.

It was decided the panel should identify and approach a number of
such organisations after the first sift of proposals was completed.

The meeting also heard because so many initial submissions had been
received there may no longer be `any great merit' in seeking other
ideas from the USA and Europe.

However, this situation would change, it was felt, if proposals for a
multi-sports stadium on the site were not to come to fruition.

Mr. Campbell told the meeting of a recent visit by some members of
the panel to the site of Liverpool's original airport at Speke.
He said the trip had been very useful as it allowed comparisons to be
made with the work being proposed for the Maze site.

He stressed the airport authorities had put a large amount of
resources into access and general appearance before any regeneration
had taken place.

Mr. Campbell also expressed concerns about possible gaps in popular
opinion regarding proposals for the site and said he had hoped to be
contacted by political parties since the last meeting.

At this point Sinn Fein representative Martin O'Muilleoir
acknowledged although a representative of his party had submitted a
proposal it should not be regarded as the official SF proposal.

The Ulster Unionists, it emerged were content to look at the broad
proposals made by all others but were not planning to make a specific
one of their own.

The SDLP were in a similar position and the Panel's attention was
also drawn to a letter from Dr. Ian Paisley supporting the idea of
Laganside Rural Development being involved in the future of the site.

The meeting heard an ad-hoc committee had been established to look at
access strategy for the site.

However it was stressed options only were being considered.

Finally, the panel was told the Office of the First Minister and
Deputy First Minister will receive a report during the summer on the
second phase of the Environmental Heritage Assessment of the site – a
heritage assessment by consultants.

This will then be made available to the Environment Heritage Service
to look at before making a recommendation.

In the meantime a report from the Construction Service on the
condition of the site is awaited.

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