Multi-million investment for area in need

A multi-million pound investment in the Greater Poleglass area will lead to a massive boost in the retail, commercial, social and leisure services for West Belfast.

And the £3.5 million funds injection from the Integrated Development Fund (IDF) has been warmly welcomed by local politicians, community activists and statutory workers.

£21 million of IDF funding — secured on the back of the West Belfast Task Force report — has been earmarked for economic regeneration throughout the West Belfast constituency.

Colin Neighbourhood’s share of that – a £3.5 million windfall - has resulted from an application submitted by local MLA Michael Ferguson and Eamon Foster, Director of Glenwood Business Centre, designed to target the physical regeneration of the area by helping local businesses and improving the environment, community services and transport infrastructure.

Following news that the IDF application was successful, representatives from Belfast Regeneration Office, the Department of Social Development, Lisburn Council, the Department of Regional Development, the Roads Service, the Housing Executive and other agencies met last week to agree an interdepartmental approach.

Councillor Michael Ferguson said that as well as formulating an agreed business plan for the area, efforts will now be made to access immediate funding for a consultation process involving government departments and the community and private sectors.

Commenting upon the developments, Councillor Ferguson said: "The future of the people and particularly the children of Poleglass, Twinbrook, Lagmore and the Dunmurry Lane area is dependent upon our ability to agree a vision for the future that allows us to exploit our peripherality from two cities rather than suffer from it.

"Every neighbourhood needs a heart that has the retail, commercial, social and leisure infrastructure that offers the jobs, resources and services to keep that heart alive and sustain those living off it.

"We hope this £3.5 million will help lever added value and jump-start the physical regeneration of the Colin Neighbourhood and contribute to the other tremendous work and plans of our local schools, health services, community, voluntary and business sectors," said Michael Ferguson.

Highlighting the positive impact of the funding, Eamon Foster of Glenwood Business Centre said the investment is "necessary".

"This visionary project will act as a catalyst for change bringing new economy and social revitalisation into the area. It will have an immediate visible impact on the Stewartstown Road for all the community by enhancing the daily lives of the people who live, work and play in the Colin area.

"The physical redevelopment will bring new employment and training opportunities, as well as the much needed capital investment, assisted by a partnership approach with the statutory bodies and local authority to bring the project to fruition and achieve long-term sustainability."

Colin Glen Trust Chief Executive, Tim Duffy, welcomed the "major environmental improvements this project will bring".

"This fits neatly with our efforts to improve the environment and through this the quality of life of all who live and work in this part of West Belfast," said Mr Duffy.

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney

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