Access to Black Mountain: Plans will ‘transform’ Upper Springfield

A new project that would improve access to Black Mountain in West Belfast would have a ‘transformative impact’ on the community, an MP has claimed.

The Access to the Hills program aims to reopen pathways providing safer access to the green space that attracts thousands of people from near and far each year.

As things stand, unless traveling by car, safe and proper access to the hills is nearly impossible – a problem the Upper Springfield community has had for years.

Read more:Belfast councilor outlines his vision for Black Mountain

If the proposed plans are approved, access for local families will be made possible through the ‘Mountain Loney’ at Dermott Hill.

Sinn Féin MP Aisling Reilly said: ‘The ‘Access to the Hills’ project will have a transformational impact on the Upper Springfield community for residents and visitors alike.

“The reopening of traditional trails providing safe access to Black Mountain, allowing visitors and locals to access and explore our hills will have substantial social, community and economic benefits, increasing our health and well-being and connecting people to nature.

An artist’s impression of a proposed access point

“Removing barriers and ensuring access to the hills for the neighboring community also reduces pressure on Divis Mountain’s parking lot and provides alternative entry points onto the mountain.

“Currently, if you don’t have access to a car, you officially cannot access the hills. This groundbreaking initiative will change that and ensure that local people can access the hills which for generations have provided the splendid canvas background of our city.”

Michael Donnelly, Sinn Féin councilor in the area, has engaged with residents since the project launched in November 2020.

At the launch, Cllr Donnelly told Belfast Live that in an area that suffers from the ‘North’s worst health inequalities’, opening up space ‘will not just improve people’s physical health, but also their health mental”.

This week, as the concept designs were launched for public consultation, he said: “We started this project in 2020 when Upper Springfield Development Trust secured funding from Belfast City Council to carry out a feasibility study into creating a an access point in the hills of Upper Springfield.

“Sinn Féin have since put forward a motion to the full council for full support to consider unlocking the potential of our hills from a number of new access points, including here. in the heart of Upper Springfield.

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“Belfast City Council currently has ‘access to the hills’ on its list of capital projects and the council has recently appointed a design team to establish the costs that will help make this vision a reality.”

Concept designs will be on display for public comment on the following dates:

  • March 7 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Upper Springfield Development Trust;
  • March 8 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Newhill Youth and Community Centre.

Read more:Green light for multi-million pound shared community facility in Belfast

Read more:Black Mountain clean-up operation led by young men in West Belfast

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