Mallon announces the outcome of the review of the York Street Interchange scheme
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has announced proposals to address the recommendations from the review of the York Street Interchange scheme.
The scheme has been developed to address a major bottleneck on the strategic road network, replacing the existing signalised junctions at York Street with direct links between Westlink, M2 and M3, the three busiest roads in Northern Ireland.
Commenting following the review, which was conducted by an independent panel who made a number of recommendations, the Minister said:
“In the summer of 2020 I announced a short sharp review of the York Street Interchange project to determine the scheme’s ability to deliver better connectivity, improve health and wellbeing, tackle the climate crisis and to ensure it is future proofed.
“I want the scheme to maximise focus on wellbeing, sustainable travel, creating thriving liveable places and communities as well as responding to the climate emergency and connecting people and opportunities.
“I also want to ensure that the scheme aligns with the emerging policy context and rises to the new challenges facing us all.
“I considered the outcome of this review and accept in full the six recommendations. As a result, before I make a decision on the next steps for the scheme, I have asked consultants to carry out some further work particularly around place making and to maximise ambition in terms of what can be delivered for communities, connectivity and the wider living places agenda.
“It will also take into account the further development of Belfast as we reimagine how the city will look and feel in the future.
“As we move towards a greener recovery, it is important that we consider the future of our city and maximise the benefits this strategic project can deliver for our economy, environment and importantly the local community.
“The Strategic Advisory Group for the scheme will also be reconvened and the communications strategy updated to ensure local communities and other stakeholders are kept informed of future developments. I have asked the consultants to report in the autumn of 2021.”
In July 2020, the Minister announced a review of the York Street Interchange scheme. This review was conducted by an independent panel in November 2020.
The independent review panel made six recommendations in relation to the scheme. These were:
The YSI project brief should be reviewed and revised to ensure it aligns with the concept of “place making” and new best practice in terms of urban transport design, and with the Minister’s agenda.
The wider area impact and benefits of the Project should be evaluated using appropriate quantitative and qualitative assessment mechanisms.
The current Project costs should be updated to act as a benchmark to inform any decision on future alternative development.
There needs to be a system of ongoing communications with all interested parties. This should include updating the 2017 Communications Strategy and employing a robust Communications Structure now as well as during any construction phase. Communications should be ongoing and not just point in time.
There needs be much closer co-ordination both within the DfI and between DfI and other relevant departments and interested parties at both policy and delivery levels with regard to YSI development and delivery.
There needs to be a co-ordinated decision made in the context of emerging policies, which then needs to be applied to ensure that the YSI project aligns to this context
The Strategic Advisory Group is made up of representatives from DfC, BCC and key stakeholders. Its purpose is to provide strategic guidance to facilitate the integration of York Street Interchange with other Government and private initiatives in the setting of the project, in order to maximise opportunities for investment across all sectors.