Northern Ireland

Belfast city centre living plan not viable, says construction body

A cement mixer and a builder on a building site
Image caption The council wants more residential developments to be built in the city centre

Belfast City Council's plans to create 30,000 new homes in the city centre are not viable, a construction industry body has warned.

The council has said it wants to have 66,000 people living in the centre by 2035, a significant increase on the 3,000 who live there at present.

That will require the building of about 30,000 new homes.

The Construction Employers' Federation said that was "not going to happen" because sewerage systems are outdated.

The council is planning to transform the city centre to become prime real estate, like other UK and European city centres.

'Constant underfunding'

It is hoped that bringing more people to live in the city centre will benefit trade for shops, restaurants and bars.

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Media captionBelfast City Council wants to have 66,000 more people living in the city centre by 2035

But John Armstrong, the Construction Employers' Federation's managing director, said that "when waste water is at capacity, development stops".

He criticised the Stormont executive's "constant underfunding" of Northern Ireland Water, the publicly-owned company that provides water and sewerage services, saying that had caused a reduction in upgrades to the water systems.

Mr Armstrong said that for any realistic chance of transformation, the Northern Ireland Executive had to return.

"We need an executive back in place to make the decisions to put in multi-year budgets and change the funding for Northern Ireland Water," he added.

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