The Orange Order has said a proposed new housing development along a parade route deemed “sensitive” by the Parades Commission would create a “permanent no go area”.
Belfast City Council’s planning department recently gave the go-ahead for a new development by Choice Housing on a vacant plot just yards from Clifton Street Orange Hall, near the Westlink.
The development, described as “nationalist housing” in a report in the Irish News, lies along a route used for loyal order parades departing from Clifton Street Orange Hall — including the Twelfth of July demonstration.
The Parades Commission has determined the Clifton Street/Donegall Street stretch to be “sensitive”.
The Orange Institution has now said the housing development would “create a permanent ‘no go area’ along a main arterial route into Belfast city centre”.
A spokesperson for the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast said: “The Orange Institution will be seeking a meeting with Choice Housing to ascertain why they failed to consult the members of Belfast Orange Hall, Clifton Street, giving them no choice or say, regarding the proposed housing development at Stanhope Street/Regent Street.
“There are questions to be answered by Belfast City Council relating to the planning process used, which failed to recognise the sensitivities of this area with regard to cultural expression.”
The spokesperson continued: “The Parades Commission created the climate where Choice Housing, and planners, think it is acceptable to create a permanent ‘no go’ area along a main arterial route into Belfast city centre, by consistently and unjustifiably banning supporters of Loyal Order parades from Clifton Street/Donegall Street.”
The statement added: “If this development goes ahead Clifton Street should be renamed Sectarian Street.”
A spokesperson for the Parades Commission confirmed that conditions are imposed on “approximately 20 loyal order parades” that process Clifton Street each year.
A council spokesperson said the application by Choice Housing was approved “after considering all material planning considerations in full accordance with how planning applications should be processed” and added that no objections were received.
A spokesperson for Choice Housing, meanwhile, said the housing association is “committed to undertaking full, open and effective community consultations”.
Choice Housing said it had consulted with “the Belfast Orange Hall”.