Sandy Row residents want houses built on bonfire site

The Housing Executive owns the land at Hope Street where the Sandy Row bonfire has been located for the past number of years
The Housing Executive owns the land at Hope Street where the Sandy Row bonfire has been located for the past number of years

A contentious bonfire site in south Belfast could soon be redeveloped.

A residents’ group wants to see the former car park where the Sandy Row bonfire has been located redeveloped as housing for local people.

They are opposed to it being turned into a new office building – one of the plans being considered for redevelopment.

The bonfire at Hope Street has been a talking point for the last number of years, due to its proximity to several properties, including a hotel.

This year a nearby apartment block was damaged by the Eleventh Night blaze.

Billy Dickson, representing Blackstaff Community Development Association, wants to see traditional red-brick housing on the Housing Executive land reflecting the type of housing that had been there before redevelopment in the 1980s.

He said: “With so many visitors to this area every year, it would give a good Belfast experience for them to see what would be traditional street-scape red-brick housing. At the moment the area is mostly ‘blighted’ with car parks and advertising hoardings.”

Mr Dickson said the Hope Street and Charles Street South area of Sandy Row is one of the oldest areas of Belfast, with the first houses being built there around the 1850s.

He added: “If the office plan were to go ahead it would mean the end of any chance of recreating this area as part of Sandy Row. Over the years the family housing area has been reduced considerably at both ends of Sandy Row.”

Mr Dickson said he hoped the Sandy Row community would “resist further moves that will adversely affect the community”.

The Housing Executive said: “We have been consulting with the local community and statutory and voluntary agencies about the use of Hope Street in order to regenerate this area of the city.

“One of the options we are currently exploring is using part of the land for public sector office accommodation, though this is at very early stages.”