Jennymount Mill still an option for council

The DUP in North Belfast has welcomed the council’s decision to debate again the possibility of moving over 300 council workers to Jennymount Mill on the York Road.
At the first monthly meeting of our city fathers in 2005, members of the chamber narrowly voted to bring the issue of relocating city centre staff back to committee by 23 to 20.
The matter, which has been in the pipeline for two years, will now be further discussed by the Policy and Resources committee on January 21.
DUP Castle area councillor Ian Crozier said he was pleased that hopes for a regeneration of the York Road area were still alive.
“There is a lot of mileage in the proposal. I don’t think that at our last committee meeting the idea was properly discussed as it was not compared to any similar projects,” he said
The councillor maintained that the relocation of staff to Jennymount was the most cost effective option.
“In the next financial year the council is intending to shell out £650,000 on temporary accommodation. In the city centre land is £9 or £12 a square foot, in Jennymount its £7. In the long run it would make a lot of sense for the council to buy this property and fit it out.
“There is no getting away from the fact that the council needs more room and again, space to decant staff while projects are being established. Pinch points would include the departments of development, client services and health and environmental.
“Basically the Cecil Ward Building is swamped and another area would include the council’s computer section in Gloucester Street. In all we need a further permanent 60,000 square feet, and Jennymount [25,000 sq ft] would go some way to tackling this deficit.”
Despite the enthusiasm expressed by Ian Crozier about the move, staff in the council have said they are not eager to relocate to the York Road.
Over 120 staff visited the site and completed a questionnaire that revealed 86 per cent felt ‘displeased or very displeased’ about the move.
On top of this, consultants brought in by the council to review the site, said they would advise against the acquisition of Jennymount Mill.
North Belfast MLA and councillor Alban Maginness said he believed the old courthouse on Crumlin Road would be a better proposal.
“This is a better idea because of its size and location. It is more than 60,000 square foot in size and could be easily adapted to suit council needs, and it is also close to the city centre.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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