independent

Monday 21 April 2014

DCAL to defend Windsor Park plans

A High Court judge has ruled that Crusaders can challenge plans to upgrade Windsor Park

The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure in Northern Ireland will "robustly" defend its plans to redevelop Windsor Park in the wake of Crusaders' attempts to launch a judicial review of the case.

DCAL said in a statement that Crusaders, the Irish Premier League side, had been granted leave by the High Court in Belfast in order to seek the review. Crusaders, who were unavailable to comment, are thought to be unhappy about the £29.2million renovation of the national stadium as it is also the home of their domestic rivals, Linfield.

The Goverment is to provide £25.2million of that cost as part of an overall investment of £110million in three Northern Irish grounds; Windsor, Casement Park and Ravenhill. In the statement, a DCAL spokesperson said: "As a legal process is under way we are unable to comment. However, DCAL intends to robustly defend the grounds which have been alleged by Crusaders."

It was confirmed on February 20 that planning permission had been received for the work, with all four stands in line to be renovated and, in the case of the South Stand, rebuilt entirely.

In court quotes given to the BBC, Mr Justice Treacy said: "It is in my view arguably clear that the Government has made a decision in respect of a funding package to redevelop Windsor Park, build a new stadium at Casement Park and redevelop Ravenhill."

He added: "I should emphasise that the grant of leave says nothing at all as to how the case will ultimately be resolved following the provision of and consideration of all relevant evidence. The grant of leave merely signifies the case is arguable or worthy of further consideration."

A potential review was good news for Crusaders director Mark Langhammer, who also told the BBC: "Our aim in all of this has always been to get a balanced and competitive league.

"At this stage, what this leave hearing decision secures is access to the information on which DCAL and others made their decision.

"We will not get ahead of ourselves, we will simply get the information first and discuss it with our members."

Work was due to commence in September. The Irish Football Association were unable to comment.

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