Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland



Architects receive warm reception

by Julie Ann Spence

Pictured before Lisburn City Council's Special Meeting of Planning Committee are: (back l-r) Mr Jim Rose, Director of Leisure Services; Mr Colin McClintock, Director of Environmental Services; Mr Norman Davidson, Chief Executive; Councillor William Ward, Vice Chairman; Mr Ian Wilson, Assistant Director of Environmental Services. (Front l-r) The Mayor, Councillor James Tinsley; Janine Graham, HOK Sport Architecture; Bill Dowey, Mott McDonald; Councillor William Leathem, Chairman of the Planning Committee and Mr Edgar Jardine, DCAL.

LISBURN City Council is to write to the Northern Ireland Assembly's Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure, criticising them for refusing to meet the Maze Stadium Architects, HOK Sport.

The Councillors took the decision at Monday night's Planning Committee meeting, to which they welcomed the architects and heard details about the design of the proposed National Stadium.

The architects, who conceded they attended the meeting with some trepidation following their rejection by the Assembly Committee, received a warm welcome and were delighted with the support they received. Following their presentation, councillors all voiced their unanimous support for the project. Councillor Paul Porter, seconded by Alderman Ivan Davis, proposed the council write to the Assembly Committee expressing their disappointment at the treatment of the architects.

Alderman Jim Dillon also proposed letters be sent to each of the party leaders, stating Lisburn City Council's unanimous support for the Maze project. Speaking after the meeting, Chairman of the Committee, Councillor William Leathem said: This would truly be a wonderful addition to Northern Ireland's infrastructure, not just Lisburn. There is no doubt that the number of jobs and the boost to tourism would benefit the Northern Ireland economy in addition to the wonderful sporting opportunities for athletes right across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland "It will he a great shame if this once in a lifetime opportunity for the people of Northern Ireland is lost. There is no suitable alternative site and I would urge everyone to look at the bigger picture for Northern Ireland as a whole."

New stadium could be a mecca for music fans

DETAILS of how the proposed new stadium at the Maze could bring up to 50,000 to the city for concerts have been given to Lisburn Council.

With much of the focus on the planned stadium on its use by GAA, football and rugby, member of the council's Planning Committee heard on Monday night how it could bring some of the world's leading musicians here as well.

Maze Stadium architects, HOK Sport, took up an invitation from the committee to meet them and provided details about the design of the stadium. They also revealed that the stadium design was flexible enough to provide a centre stage and could accommodate up to 50,000 music fans.

In recent years more and more world class acts have been travelling to Northern Ireland, including the Queen of Country Dolly Parton, chart toppers Girls Aloud and Westlife and comeback kids Take That even kicked off their last UK tour in Belfast.

If the Maze Stadium, gets the go ahead, the venue could attract even bigger artists to the Province and, with a capacity some five times bigger than the Odyssey, it could even begin to compete with Croke Park as a major concert venue.

Speaking at a recent Assembly debate on the issue, Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister, Edwin Poots, stressed the new stadium would not be taking business from existing Northern Ireland venues.

"In relation to concerts, we are aiming to take business away from the Point Depot, Slane Castle, and Croke Park," said Mr Poots. "We are not aiming to take business away from the Odyssey Arena or any other events that take place in Northern Ireland. Over 50% of the people attending one of the latest concerts in the Odyssey Arena did not come from Northern Ireland.

"If we have a quality venue wherever that venue may be we have the ability to bring tens of thousands of people to Northern Ireland each year, which will add millions of pounds to our economy"

Mr Tony Whitehead from the Strategic Investment Board, at the same Assembly debate, added: "The chief executive of the Odyssey Arena, Nicky Dunn, has been one of the key consultees in the process all along to ensure that any events that we attract to the stadium are complementary to the Odyssey Arena."

Ulster Star