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A revised planning application submitted this week by Fold Housing Association for the former Visteon site in west Belfast will significantly increase business use space and allow for the creation of up to 600 jobs.
Fold purchased the former Visteon site in June 2013, with the aim of providing social and private housing, community facilities and employment opportunities. Since then Fold has undertaken considerable work to prepare the site for development, including the demolition of several derelict factory buildings.
An initial planning application submitted by Fold in December 2013 proposed a housing-led regeneration of the site which would meet the critical needs of local people by providing quality homes, access to workspace and community facilities. The £25m investment includes 244 new private and social homes, set amidst extensive open space and represents an overall investment of £70m in the wider economy.
In response to a request by the Planning Service, Fold Housing Association has reviewed the amount of employment space to be provided on the site and this week submitted a revised proposal which increases this from 40,000 sq. ft. to over 60,000 sq. ft.
John McLean, chief executive of Fold Housing Association, said: We believe our revised proposals will benefit the local community in many ways. West Belfast currently has one of the highest housing waiting lists in Northern Ireland, with more than 2,000 people living in housing stress. Our plans will see much needed homes for social rent alongside affordable homes for sale. In total, 244 new homes will be available for families seeking to settle in this area.The amended proposal includes business use floor space which has the opportunity to create over 600 jobs, depending upon the final end user. This is nearly three times the level of employment across the entire site when Visteon shut in 2009.
He added: This project will provide an immediate boost to the construction industry with up to 300 jobs estimated in the initial building phase and we have exciting proposals for apprentice schemes during construction as well as for long-term local employment opportunities maintaining all the facilities on site in the future. We are committed to providing employment space within the overall regeneration project and we would welcome interest from potential employers for the workspace, though demand for space of this type is not strong in west Belfast at the moment.
Fold Housing Association will hold a number of drop in information events at the Balmoral Hotel on Wednesday 2nd September between 2pm and 5pm and Thursday 3rd September between 5pm and 8pm.
For further information on the regeneration of the former Visteon site, please visit the website: www.foldvisteonregeneration.com'