Allan Leonard, Alliance Party Representative of South Belfast, has declared that he will fight against the shifting standards being placed upon efforts of the Chinese community to establish a Chinese Resource Centre in South Belfast.
Officials have told representatives of the Chinese community that in addition of proving enhanced community benefit, they must also show that their desired open space site, on the Ormeau Road near the Lagan River, is the only site available for them.
Meanwhile, a vacant commercial building next door has since been approved to be converted in a suite of residential apartments.
Mr Leonard, who is the Alliance Party’s General Secretary, stated:
“It is so unfair to permit a planning application that is going to make worse the well-known problem of the overdevelopment of HMOs (housing of multiple occupancy) in the Holy Land, while raising the barrier for the Chinese community to establish a resource centre, which would clearly benefit themselves and the wider community.
“The Alliance Party succeeded in getting race relations legislation introduced to Northern Ireland, pointing out the unacceptability of having such laws in Great Britain but not here.
“It is rich for the Northern Ireland Office to have recently published a race relations strategy, which itself is highly recommendable, just to have another Department stymie it objectives.
“Improving race relations and greater community relations need to be our highest priorities, not only in South Belfast but in Northern Ireland as a whole. This is all the more reason why the Government’s race relations strategy and Shared Future policy must be implemented across the board, across all Departments.
“I shall be taking up this matter with relevant Ministers. It really is time that they started to work together on their own policies.”