In 2011, Lower Oldpark Community Association prepared and secured the agreement of the local community for a Lower Oldpark Regeneration Strategy.
In 2012, a physical regeneration strategy for Lower Oldpark in Greater Shankill was agreed by LOCA with the Department for Social Development (now Department for Communities) and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE).
This strategy had a strong focus on the refurbishment of the vacant and decaying residential properties and the development of new homes on the cleared, former housing sites. It was also concerned with dealing with vacant, non-residential buildings, peace wall issues and road/ pedestrian safety.
The Department for Social Development (DS) led a process that brought together a number of organisations under the title of the Lower Oldpark Neighbourhood Renewal Group. They included LOCA, the Department for Communities (DSD), the NIHE, Clanmil Housing, the Belfast Regeneration Office and the Girdwood Development Team.
The role of the group was to push forward and oversee the implementation of the various elements of the Strategy.
In 2013, LOCA updated its own regeneration strategy for the Lower Oldpark neighbourhood. This was endorsed by residents and published in June 2013.
The first Lower Oldpark Neighbourhood Regeneration Strategy work was carried out in 2011 and involved the refurbishment of four long-term vacant and decaying NIHE flats in Alloa Street by the NIHE.
In March 2013, Clanmil Housing began work on the refurbishment 26 long-term vacant and decaying former NIHE properties in Manor Court, Mountview Street and Oldpark Road (see photo above). Work on all 26 new homes was completed in June 2014. This modernised housing was let by Clanmil Housing to households on the social housing waiting list.
These refurbishment schemes were important because they provided regenerative housing, but also because they removed empty and decaying properties that undermined the attractiveness of the neighbourhood. In addition, the schemes removed a significant source of anti-social behaviour.
The second main element of the Regeneration Strategy involved the development of eight new social houses on open space fronting onto the lower stretch of the Oldpark Road, adjacent to Century Street.
The developer was Trinity Housing but, during the development process, which began in 2015, responsibility passed to Choice Housing. Completion of the scheme was delayed due to the building contractor going out of business and a new contractor having to be found and appointed.
Letting of the completed houses by Choice Housing to households on the waiting list was complete by March 2017.
Other elements of the Lower Oldpark Regeneration Strategy were successfully implemented during the period up to June 2013. These included the upgrading of local street lighting, the provision of a puffin pedestrian crossing on the Oldpark Road at the former Carnegie Library building and improvements to the John Hewitt Play Park.
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