Director - Planning and Environment
RPS were commissioned by the Irish Football Association (IFA) to undertake planning consultancy works in respect of the redevelopment of the National Football Stadium (formerly Windsor Park) in Belfast to an 18,000 seater capacity. Subsequently, RPS were also commissioned by Belfast City Council to undertake planning services for the relocation of the Olympia Leisure Centre and the development of a sports village and mixed use site, directly adjacent to the National Football Stadium.
The National Stadium project involved the refurbishment and extension of the north and west stands and full replacement of the south and east stands alongside a complete delivery of new hard and soft landscaping with associated lighting and display installations, coach and car parking, and player accommodation and welfare facilities.
The Olympia Sports village proposal required the demolition and relocation of the existing leisure services to be accomodated within the stadium improved 4G pitches, lighting, access and ancillary facilities and a mixed use (retail and hotel) development.
The overall site was constrained by adjacent land uses on all sides, including road and railways, residential and industrial/commercial development. In particular, issues around traffic, over shadowing and event management were key considerations in the project development.
In respect of the National Football Stadium, RPS undertook the submission of the planning application and supporting environmental information. In advance of the submission, RPS undertook Pre-Application Discussions (PAD) through a coordinated formal stakeholder engagement process including engagement with statutory undertakers, community and political groups including local residents and businesses. The formal pre-application consultation was part of a pilot programme for sports stadia in Northern Ireland. Planning permission on this major Article 31 infrastructure project was obtained within just 13 weeks of submission. RPS also obtained planning permission for a new pedestrian access to the stadium from the adjacent rail link in a bid to improve access to the stadium and encourage the use of public transport.
Following receipt of the planning approval for the National Stadium, RPS undertook
planning services for the relocation of the Olympia Leisure Centre and the development of the sports village. Notably, RPS obtained planning approval to facilitate all elements of the development including an amendments to the stadium approval, to allow the relocation of the Olympia Leisure centre to within the stadium structure. Planning permission was also obtained in respect of new 4G pitches, lighting, access, open space and ancillary uses. Outline planning permission was also obtained for mixed use development (retail and hotel) on the site.
In addition to planning services, RPS undertook a range of environmental reports including noise, air quality and contaminated land assessments.
The National Football Stadium opened in October 2016 with the Olympia Leisure centre and Sports Village opened in 2017.
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