Agenda item


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1             To update members on the progress of the DFC/BSC funded Bullring capital project including the formal park opening; proposed process for naming the new park and keyholder arrangements for the community garden/allotments and MUGA.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


1.     Note the update and formal opening arrangements for the new park.

2.      Agree the preparation of a keyholding agreement for the community garden with Lower Shankill Community Association and Denmark Street Community Centre.

3.      Note the process for naming the new park including the shortlisted names for the public vote on the Council’s Your Say website. The result of that vote will be reported back to this Committee.


3.0       Main report


3.1       The Department for Communities, through its Building Successful Communities programme, has funded two public realm projects in Lower Falls and Lower Shankill. The Westlink Sports Activity Park (which was its working title for funding purposes) is situated at the Divis ‘Back Path’ area located between the rear of Cullingtree Road and the Westlink. Now renamed Páirc an Lonnáin, it was opened to the public in early July 2021 following a major £1m development, creating a valuable new asset for residents in this part of the west of the city.


3.2       The Bullring project is larger in scale. The finished asset will, alongside improved hard and soft landscaping, include:


·        A MUGA

·        Play area for 0-3years and 3-6 years

·        Exercise Equipment

·        Self-contained Community Garden including toilet facility

·        Allotments


3.3       Appendix 1 contains a Planning Drawing of The Bullring Public Realm proposals.


3.4       The expected completion date is the end August 2023. In line with recommendations made by the SP&R committee in October 2016, the Bullring will transfer to council with 3 years of maintenance funding from DFC at an annual value of £35,000. The site will be managed and maintained by the relevant Open Spaces Street Scene team within City and Neighbourhood Services.


3.5       The Bullring site includes a securely fenced and gated area for a community garden with raised beds which can be made available to individuals and/or community groups for growing. This area also includes a WC, storage shed and water taps. Throughout the construction period, CNS officers have engaged with DfC and with local community representatives, including Lower Shankill Community Association and Denmark Street Community Centre, via a local stakeholder group, to prepare for the handover of the park. The Parks Outreach and Events Team have been helping prepare for the handover with a particular focus on how the community garden can be managed over late summer and autumn of 2023.


3.6       Keyholding


            Given the importance of facilitating access to the community garden for watering and weeding, across the breadth of times when users will want to work there, it is proposed to enter into a keyholder agreement for the community garden and the MUGA with Lower Shankill Community Association and Denmark Street Community Centre. This reflects the approach at other community gardens and allotments such as Glenbank, Grove, Musgrave and Knocknagoney. In respect of the MUGA, it also follows the approach agreed at Páirc an Lonnáin, where Falls Residents’ Association have a keyholder agreement which has allowed them to programme activity on the site outside normal park opening hours.


3.7       Naming


            The former Parks & Leisure Committee, at its meeting in August 2008, agreed a policy framework for managing requests to name parks.   The policy follows a 4-stage process and has also previously been used to (re)name a bridge on the Connswater Community Greenway, Páirc an Lonnáin (the former Divis Back Path referred to above) and Páirc Nua Chollann (the new park funded by Urban Villages at Colin). These stages are;  


·        Engagement with key stakeholders to develop a long list of new park names, which reflect;


o   a sense of place, reflecting the geographic location, community, neighbourhood or street where the park, facility or amenity is located.


o   the historical significance of the area or reflects unique characteristics of the site (unique flora / fauna).


·        Shortlisted names based on stakeholder feedback and assessed against the policy criteria as outlined above;


·        Community consultation on the agreed shortlisted names;


·        Recommendation to People anf Communities Committee to reflect preferred name identified via the community consultation.




3.8       Names will not be considered which:  


·        Cause confusion due to duplication or names sounding similar to existing named facilities/locations within the City.


·        Unlawfully discriminate within the meaning and scope of the provisions of Section 75, the Good Relations Plan (2007) and the Shared Future agenda.


·        Are party-political in intention or use.


3.9       There is strong support in the local area to rename the Bullring site because of previous associations with anti-social behaviour and other incidents in the area where the new park has been built.


3.10      In line with the policy framework, local stakeholders have come together to develop a list of potential names for the former Bullring site and a panel (including nominated members of the Bullring Stakeholder Group which was the local reference group for the development and a local councillor) have considered the submissions against the criteria in the Council’s policy framework.


3.11      Engagement took place via the local summer scheme programmes and after schools programmes at the Hammer and Denmark Street Community Centres in June and July 2023. This was successful in gathering ideas from local children and their parents as well as local community groups. A total of 57 suggested names were received and following discussion with the Panel the following three names are proposed for public consultation in line with Council policy:  


1.      Angel Park: In 2010/11 the Lower Shankill Youth Project which operated from Denmark Street Community Centre successfully worked with a number of young people who were engaging in anti-social behaviour in the area to change behaviours. The project came to be referred to locally as the ‘Lower Shankill Angels’ and NIHE funded a statue of an angel to acknowledge its achievements. The statue is currently located at Peter’s Hill but will be relocated to the new park when it is completed;

2.      Lower Shankill Park: this proposed name is a straightforward reflection of the geographical location of the new park;

3.      Rock Roots Park: this suggestion emerged from engagement with children and their parents during summer programmes and after school programmes. Staff at the community centres discussed the experience of watching the park being built with local children, focussing on what they saw. The children spoke about the rocks and rubble on site when development started with ‘muck’ replaced by grass and how they have seen it transformed from the ‘roots’ with trees, flowers and plants. From these ideas they settled on a suggested name of Rock Roots Park


3.12      In line with the Council’s naming policy framework, Committee approval is now being sought to carry out a full public consultation using the Council’s Your Say Citizenspace around these naming options.  The results of this consultation will then be brought back to Committee seeking approval to select the final name of the park.


      It is expected that final recommendations on the official name for the new park at the former Bullring in Lower Shankill will be tabled for consideration again at People and Communities Committee in autumn 2023.


3.13      Financial and Resource Implications


            In line with recommendations made by SP&R committee in October 2016, the Bullring will transfer to Council with 3 years of maintenance funding from DFC at an annual value of £35,000. Consideration will need to be given to revenue funding for this asset at the appropriate point in the budget estimating cycle to align to the end of the 3 year DFC funded period. The site will be managed and maintained by the relevant Open Spaces Street Scene team within City and Neighbourhood Services.


3.14          Equality or Good Relations Implications/

            Rural Needs Assessment


            The naming process followed will be in line with the Council’s naming policy and the chosen name will be screened in line with the Council’s equality process.”


            The Committee adopted the recommendations as outlined at 2.0 of the report.


Supporting documents: