Alliance welcomes refusal for Gilnahirk laneway extinguishment order

East Belfast Alliance MLA Naomi Long and local Alliance Councillor Judith Cochrane have welcomed the decision by the Environment and Heritage Service to refuse an extinguishment order on a right of way between Gilnahirk Road and Avenue. Naomi Long spoke against the extinguishment at a public inquiry held in November last year, which was attended by over 100 local residents and Officers from Castlereagh Borough Council.

Cllr. Long said, “I am delighted that the campaign by Alliance representatives and local residents to preserve this well-used right of way has been successful. This path was used daily by local people accessing local facilities such as schools, the library, bus stops and shops and its potential loss was one of the main reasons for our opposition to the housing development on the Gilnahirk Road in the first place.

“Increasingly people are frustrated that developers proceed with work ahead of all the relevant approvals being sought and the proper consultation being completed, making residents feel powerless and ignored in the process. Whilst it is not against the law to do so, such work is undertaken at the developer’s own risk and this ruling shows clearly that you cannot assume that on public interest issues such as rights of way things will inevitably go the developer’s way.

Cllr. Cochrane added, “The removal of the path, even on a temporary basis, has led to an unacceptable increase in the walking distances that local people would have to make and this view has now been upheld by the Inspector.

“This result now places the onus on the developer to reinstate the original right of way, unless he gets permission for a diversion through the site from our Council, a process which would be subject to further public consultation. In the meantime, we want to see the original right of way restored as a matter of urgency so that the inconvenience and disruption to local people can be ended.


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