by JULIE ANN SPENCE
Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) has confirmed that it
wants to move from its Balmoral base and that the Maze is its
The RUAS said it would make a final decision
on the move if a plan to build 140 houses on the south Belfast
site gets the go-ahead from Belfast City Council later this
The Planning Service has already recommended
the application be approved.
If the RUAS get the green light, the sale of
the site could net the Society millions of pounds, which would
allow them to develop a new showground and exhibition complex
away from Belfast at the site of the former Maze Prison.
They would also use some of the proceeds to
refurbish the Kings Hall which would be unaffected by the move.
The Vice-Chairman of Lisburn City Council's
Leisure Services Committee, Councillor David Archer, welcomed
the news. And said he hoped such a move would boost the chances
of the proposed National Stadium being built on the former
"I am delighted to hear the Planning Service
have this week approved the redevelopment of the present home of
the Royal Ulster Agriculture Society at the Balmoral showgrounds,"
said Mr Archer.
The sale of this land will give RUAS the
necessary finances to move beside our proposed multi-sports
stadium at the Maze."
MLA Edwin Poots added: "I welcome
confirmation from RUAS that their interest in the Maze is not
reliant on there being a National Stadium. This is a significant