Official Report (Hansard)

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 09 March 2011

PDF version of this report (154.91 kb)

Members present for all or part of the proceedings:

Dr Stephen Farry (Deputy Chairperson) 
Ms Martina Anderson 
Mr Allan Bresland 
Mr William Humphrey 
Mrs Dolores Kelly 
Mr Danny Kinahan 
Mr George Robinson 
Mr Jimmy Spratt

Witness:

Mr Alan Maitland ) Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister

The Deputy Chairperson (Dr Farry):

We will now receive a briefing from Alan Maitland on the regeneration of sites, including Maze/Long Kesh, Ebrington Barracks and Crumlin Road jail. You are very welcome, Alan. I see that you are flying solo today.

Mr Alan Maitland (Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister):

Thank you very much. I am sorry that I am here on my own. One colleague took ill this morning, and another is under quite a bit of work pressure.

The Deputy Chairperson:

We understand, and we pass on our best wishes to your colleague.

Mr Maitland:

That is very kind. Thank you.

The Deputy Chairperson:

The evidence session will be reported by Hansard. Perhaps you will make a few introductory remarks lasting no more than 10 minutes, and then we will open the floor to questions.

Mr Maitland:

I know that members have the briefing paper, but I thought that it may be helpful if I outline some of the key points. If the Committee is agreeable, I will focus only on the live regeneration sites. I will not talk about Malone Road Barracks or —

The Deputy Chairperson:

We are focused on Maze/Long Kesh, Ebrington and Crumlin Road.

Mr G Robinson:

Is Ballykelly not included?

The Chairperson:

OK. There is a last-minute bid for Ballykelly as well.

Mr Maitland:

I will certainly cover the Hillsborough agreement sites. I will start off with Ebrington Barracks and the legal powers that we bring to the table for Ilex. The Department for Social Development, which owns the company jointly with us, owns Fort George, and it has wide-ranging regeneration powers throughout the city. The two Departments share sponsorship of Ilex, and we share the administrative costs 50:50. OFMDFM pays all the costs of Ebrington Barracks.

The consultation period for the regeneration plan ‘One City, One Plan, One Voice’ came to an end at the end of December. I am sure that the Committee, having heard from Sir Roy McNulty and Aideen McGinley who appeared at Committee a few weeks ago, knows that that plan was a huge piece of work for the city. More than 1,000 people — hundreds in sectoral working groups — were involved and contributed to the creation of the plan. Now that the consultation period has ended, and Ilex is putting together the results, it hopes to bring that plan for full publication very shortly. The figure work and the detailed programmes and their timelines will all be set out in a new investment plan that Ilex hopes will be available in March or April.

The regeneration plan sits side by side and interlocks with the plans for City of Culture 2013. Derry City Council is taking forward the City of Culture work, but Ilex has had a huge hand in it. The SIB has also helped very much in that. SIB sat on Derry City Council’s culture company for an interim period to help to get it up and running. The City of Culture’s focus on arts and culture ties in very much with the regeneration plan’s emphasis on Ebrington Barracks. The capital works that we have under way at the parade ground will be very important for that and will provide the basis and the infrastructure for the cultural developments when those unfold.

Ilex and the culture company already have a lot of big events in the offing, as I am sure Sir Roy and Aideen will have said. The parade ground work is well under way. We have quite a substantial spend still to come this year. There is something like £1 million worth of spend in this month alone, and the capital spend this year will be something like £3·5 million. The Budget allocates £4·42 million to Ilex next year to finish off the key works on that phase of the parade ground, which will allow parts of the parade ground to be opened at the same time as the peace bridge. The main spans are not in place, and the last section of the walkway still has to to go in, but the peace bridge project is well under way. The Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) has provided some £13 million for that. Ilex is still hoping to open it, probably in June, along with the parade ground works.

Looking to the future, we are encouraging Ilex to produce a delivery strategy for Fort George and Ebrington Barracks. That would be a way of involving the private sector and bringing in private sector funding, so that we will not have to shoulder the cost of developing the site on our own. That is very important. From the outset, it was always envisaged that there would be private sector funding. Therefore, Ilex has prepared a strategic outline case, which our economists and the Department for Social Development are examining at the moment.

Ilex got the lion’s share of the budget for the next four years. A substantial chunk, £14 million, will be realised in the last year. Ilex would have preferred the funding to have been more even. However, the key thing is that in 2011-12, which is year 1, there should be sufficient funds for the completion of the contract that has already been let on the parade ground.

Finally, you were told that a report on the review of Ilex would be expected in the new year. It has just arrived and is being examined now.

With regard to Crumlin Road jail in the city, it is a very important Grade-A listed building, and we are working jointly with DSD on it. DSD owns Girdwood Park, which is the former army barracks adjacent to the Crumlin Road jail site. Therefore, the two Departments have been taking it forward together. A draft master plan has been published, and we have consulted on that, and an equality impact assessment has also been carried out. The draft master plan is not yet complete, but we hope that it soon will be. Hopefully, DSD will bring forward a paper to the Executive on the outstanding issue, which is in relation to housing in the area.

At the moment, we are trying not to let the fact that there is no formal master plan in place to hold us back in any way. Two major capital works projects are under way. The first project is for the walls and roof of the jail, and the second is for the hub of the jail, which is the central part where the four wings come together. It is known as the “Governor’s corridor”, which is a bit of a misnomer, as it is on three levels and is a very wide corridor with offices on either side. It is a very substantial part of the building.

The intention is to refurbish it to a high standard and to reopen the jail to visitors at the end of this calendar year or early next year. We hope that 60,000 to 70,000 people will come back to the jail.

Mrs D Kelly:

As visitors?

Ms M Anderson:

Aye, Dolores. I have only just sat down, and there she is.

Mrs D Kelly:

I was not talking about you at all. [Laughter.]

Ms M Anderson:

I just came into the room, and I figured it was something you said.

The Deputy Chairperson:

Dolores and Martina, that is not really appropriate. Alan, please continue.

Mr Maitland:

One of the key strands in the master plan is that a community facility should be available. Therefore, when we reopen the jail at the end of this year or at the beginning of next year, we hope that not only will there be visits but there will be community facilities, a conference room for local people in north Belfast, a café, a small shop, and a small museum such as we used to have there. The intention is that that will provide a further stimulus to possible investment in the jail, and we hope that developers will notice it because, although the major part of the jail will be refurbished, there is still quite a lot of work to do. For example, we have not touched the cottages on the roadside at the front of the jail because we do not have any funding for such a project. However, the good thing is that we have funding to finish the key capital projects next year, so we are looking forward to that.

A number of very important strands of work on the Maze/Long Kesh site are proceeding in parallel. One is the creation of a development corporation. Officials are working away to get the administrative processes and all the documentation ready in order to set up the corporation, and we will shortly be opening a competition for the appointment of a chairperson and members, who will effectively comprise the corporation’s board. That has been with Ministers, and there has been a lot of discussion to decide on the detail of salaries, remuneration and all the various specifications for that appointment process.

In parallel with that, to make sure that we do not lose any time in getting the main regeneration work ready, Kyle Alexander and his programme delivery unit are continuing discussions with the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) about the relocation of the Balmoral Show, which is still a very important project, and on the peace-building and conflict resolution centre, for which we put in a funding application of €20 million last month.

At the moment, further work is under way with professional experts to prepare a master planning framework in order to bring all of that work together and to prepare for future development. Kyle has consultants in place now and is hoping to take forward that work fairly quickly. That work will be ready to bring to the corporation once it has been created, so that it can take key decisions about bringing forward a new plan for Maze/Long Kesh with timelines and key projects.

The Deputy Chairperson:

We will leave it there and move on to questions.

Mr Spratt:

I have a couple of questions that are mostly about Maze/Long Kesh. Does OFMDFM have two strategic advisers from SIB in place to work on the Maze/Long Kesh project? If so, what exactly are those advisers doing at present and what are they costing SIB? Do you want me to ask all of my questions now?

Mr Maitland:

I am happy with whatever you are happy to do.

Mr Spratt:

You touched on the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society, which is a very important part of the project. The papers in front of us indicate that the programme delivery unit and the society were in discussions about valuations and heads of terms with a view to making a recommendation to OFMDFM and DFP in December 2010. I am just wondering exactly where we are with that. I am not sure whether it was you, Alan, when you were last here, or somebody from the board who indicated that there was a bit of urgency about the relocation of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society. However, I assume that there are probably hold-ups at its end because of the economic situation and the commercial value of its site, given what it is planning to do. Will you fill us in a bit more on that?

Where are we with the military sites, particularly the one at Omagh that is the planned location of an educational campus, which we hear a lot of talk about? I know that it is not an issue for this Committee, but is there any capital in the education budget for a campus at Omagh? If that money is not there at the minute, when is it likely to be there?

There are issues around the use of all four of the former military sites. St Patrick’s Barracks in Ballymena, some of which has been allocated for social housing, was probably the best of the sites. Will you indicate whether work has begun on social housing at St Patrick’s site in Ballymena?

The one thing that concerns me about the other sites, given what happened at Maze/Long Kesh, is contamination? Is it likely that there is contamination at the other three sites? If so, are we going to try to get the military to pick up the tab? The contamination at Maze/Long Kesh was a big issue and cost quite a bit of money.

It is one of those fancy buzz things that has come in and is not that big an issue, but it costs a lot of money to get in consultants and this one and that one to probably do very little. The cost of the site work that was needed at Maze/Long Kesh was not all that high — a few million pounds — it was the spend before that on reports and other things that had to be done that led to the high cost. So, where are we those sorts of issues? Sorry, I have asked a lot of questions.

Mr Maitland:

That is fine. I will work my way up.

With regard to the development of military sites that were transferred through the Hillsborough agreement, you are absolutely right that decontamination is a concern to Ministers. They are trying to get appropriate reassurances from the Treasury and the Ministry of Defence (MOD). We are not there yet, because, even though decontamination could reduce the value of the sites, it needs to be done to make them marketable.

Maze/Long Kesh, at 350 acres, is the biggest site that we have. So, even though the contamination was not all that intense, it was such a big area that the costs were particularly high. Some sites are only a couple of acres, and the costs are exceptionally high. On that basis, the Omagh educational campus site at Lisanelly could be very expensive to decontaminate. That is something that we are very aware of.

Of course, our job is to take the sites and sell them. The ultimate aim was to sell the sites, other than the educational campus land, and use the money for the Department of Justice. That was the arrangement. However, the simplest thing is for the Omagh site to go to the Department of Education. It will then be the Department of Education’s responsibility to look after any costs of the site and whatever decontamination work that still need to be done and to take forward the development of the site.

The Department of Education is committed to the campus project, and it has an SIB adviser working away there. It also has an important contract to give it advice on the design. I do not know a lot about the detail of that, because it is for the Department of Education. Ministers are concerned about the issues that you have raised and continue to work on them.

A housing association has already done the work to purchase the military housing beside the key site at St Patrick’s Barracks in Ballymena. It has done all of the work and surveys and, when the sites are ready for sale, it will be ready to move.

In relation to RUAS, Kyle’s unit had intended to have the business case with us before now. That has been delayed a bit, although I do not think that it has been delayed substantially. The key thing is that RUAS is still very much in the frame. It is totally involved with Kyle and our team, and it is content with that for the moment. It is still an important project and we do not want the time to slip away, but the work has to be right. Everybody is content with the process so far. I have not heard anything that would cause us concern, but, you are right, we are still waiting for that key business case and for the completion of all the discussions on the heads of terms.

Your first questions were about the SIB and how it is helping with the Maze/Long Kesh site. Kyle Alexander is an SIB senior strategic adviser who was seconded to OFMDFM to work on the Maze/Long Kesh site pretty much full time. Kyle has a lot of experience in regeneration matters, so he gives advice to colleagues in SIB and other Departments, but, for all intents and purposes, he is effectively working full time on the Maze/Long Kesh site. He is assisted by Mary McKee, who is another strategic adviser in SIB. Mary works on a number of projects, but the bulk of her time is spent on the peace-building and conflict resolution centre at the Maze/long Kesh site. SIB also gives us some administrative support for the team and charges us for that service, which comes off the budget.

Mr Spratt:

Will you indicate to us what the charges are?

Mr Maitland:

I am sorry; I do not have the information. I can come back with the detail.

Mrs D Kelly:

Thank you for the briefing. When will the Committee have sight of the review of Ilex? Will you give us an idea of the staff costs associated with Ilex?

Mr Maitland:

The review is just in, so briefing the Committee is something that the Ministers will want to do.

Mrs D Kelly:

OK. As Jimmy has asked quite a bit about the Maze/Long Kesh site, I want to ask about the military sites dealt with under the Hillsborough agreement. I think that we were told in a previous meeting that part of the difficulty related to concerns raised by officials here and a debate with the Treasury about the costs of the decontamination of the sites. Obviously, in the briefing provided to the Committee today, there are still concerns about whether it represents real value for money, given that costs will be incurred on security for the sites and decontamination, in a depressed property market. Will you give us an update on the current situation? What are the decontamination concerns?

Mr Maitland:

I should have given Mr Spratt a fuller reply on that. Because of our experience at the Maze/Long Kesh site, we know that we can expect considerable contamination at a military site. We discovered that at Girdwood Barracks and at Ebrington, to a certain extent. DSD colleagues have discovered it at Fort George and other sites that were sold directly, such as Grosvenor Barracks in Enniskillen. We were not involved, but we know that contamination was an issue. That has been raised with the MOD, but, unfortunately, it has not yet been resolved.

Ideally, we will be able to market the sites and get the best possible return if they are made safe and if there is no pollution on them. In our experience, anyone who is considering purchasing the site will reduce the price accordingly if they know that it is contaminated or if they are not sure that it is contaminated, or they may not be as interested in purchasing the site. Knowing that, we wanted to get those issues dealt with in advance. We are not there yet, but we know that, for example, at the Omagh site, contamination is likely to be an issue.

On the other side of that, the sites have been gifted. We still believe that there should be a return, even if they were sold without the proper contamination work taking place. Mr Spratt, you are right to say that we are required to do that work. Although we do not own them yet, we have had a good go.

Mrs D Kelly:

I have spoken to families of soldiers who were stationed at Fort George and to former internees whose health is now suffering, and people are wondering what the nature of the contamination is. I asked about that earlier. To take the questioning in a slightly different direction, has any research been conducted to show evidence of the nature of the contamination having an impact now on former occupants of any of those sites?

Mr Maitland:

All I know is that we wanted to be sure that there was no health risk from the contamination on the sites. For example, at Maze/Long Kesh, we discovered asbestos on heating pipes and on materials dumped in gravel pits. We have been assured by the consultants and the experts on the sites that there is no health risk. We have taken great care to make sure about that.

Mrs D Kelly:

Alan, are you saying that, when finding contamination now, you are making sure that it does not impact on the people who are working on the site now? My question was about how contamination might have affected people who were inmates or who worked on the site in the past.

Mr Spratt:

On a point of order, that is a totally unfair question from Mrs Kelly. It puts the official in the position of answering questions about contamination on a site many years ago. Those are legal issues and legal matters. Everyone knows that it can be 35 years or 40 years before someone contracts an illness after exposure to asbestos, and every building that was built in 1960s contained asbestos. That is a totally unfair line of questioning to the official.

Mrs D Kelly:

I do not think that it is unfair, because contamination feeds into the cost.

The Deputy Chairperson:

You have had a good go anyway, Dolores.

Mrs D Kelly:

I was trying to find out whether the contamination was anything other than asbestos.

The Deputy Chairperson:

The issue has been raised. You may ask a question on a different topic.

Mrs D Kelly:

As I understand it, the sites are part of the £18 billion investment in the investment strategy, over which OFMDFM is in dispute with the Treasury. Is that the case?

Mr Maitland:

I am not sure that the sites are in dispute.

Mrs D Kelly:

No, I understood that the value of the sites was part of the investment.

The Deputy Chairperson:

There are two parallel concepts. The investment strategy money stands on its own right, and the sites stand on their own right. The two interrelate, but they are parallel commitments.

Mrs D Kelly:

Is the money from the sale of the sites counted in the £18 billion?

Mr Maitland:

No, the value of the sites was supposed to be counted as part of the Hillsborough agreement, and the money is supposed to go to the Department of Justice.

Mr Humphrey:

Thank you for your presentation, Alan. Surprisingly, my line of questioning is on Crumlin Road jail, because it is in my constituency.

First, I welcome the work that has been done there. It has lifted that side of the Crumlin Road and enhanced the area greatly. I do not know whether you are aware of this, but there was agreement across the four main political parties that represent North Belfast around an application that was submitted to the SEUPB. Unfortunately, that was turned down, and I believe that to have been a short-sighted decision because it did not grasp what we were trying to do there.

At this stage, I should declare an interest as a member of Belfast City Council.

What strikes me and many of the people who live there is that, having attended public meetings in lower Oldpark and the lower Shankill area, it was very much sold as a package of the prison on one side of the road, with Girdwood barracks at the back, and the courthouse on the other side. As you know, there is a connecting tunnel under the road. There is considerable concern that, although the work on the prison is moving on apace, the courthouse lies close to ruin. I have raised the issue with the Minister for Social Development.

You mentioned community contact; as I said, I have attended a number of those meetings. A consultation process was conducted by those employed by DSD, and you quite rightly identified that the one outstanding area is housing. Assurances were given at those meetings that there would be no progress unless there was agreement, but my understanding is that the previous and the current DSD Minister have appointed housing associations, despite the assurances that were given. That has caused considerable concern in the area. Can you expand on that, if possible?

You mentioned community facilities; will you expand on what those could be? Also in relation to housing, I am concerned about the cottages that you mentioned. I think that they were formerly prison warders’ cottages, or at least were designed to be so in peacetime, and then could not be used. I do not know what their state of repair is, but will you explain what the current position is? Given the demand for housing in the area, if they could be repaired and sold off, I would have thought that that would be a means of the state having money coming into the coffers.

Mr Maitland:

I think that that is a very interesting idea for the cottages. Whether they could be sold or not would have to be considered.

Mr Humphrey:

Given that houses have been sold at, for example, the peace wall at Lanark Way and so on, I do not think there would be any difficulty in those at Crumlin Road being sold. That area has been completely enhanced and upgraded with the works that have been ongoing.

Mr Maitland:

The intention is and always was in such a deprived ward that the jail could be a force for good and a beacon for investment. We wanted to do something that would bring business in, as well as social activity, jobs, daytime and night-time activity, and be a big plus in an area that greatly needs it. Our first thought had been that we wanted to refurbish the cottages in a way that might allow them to be used for a wide range of purposes, and then see how we could bring in a private-sector developer on conditions that our Ministers would lay down for development. That is where we were coming from on the cottages. We do not have a capital budget beyond this year, but if it is possible to get sufficient moneys out of the system through in-year monitoring rounds to work on the cottages, those would be a bit of a priority for us.

Mr Humphrey:

Am I picking you up correctly? Would the cottages be transformed into something other than living accommodation?

Mr Maitland:

We wanted to keep it open. Housing was not first thought of for the cottages as we wanted to know what good we could do on the small acreage to try to get as much bang for our buck.

Mr Humphrey:

In relation to the sheer size of the Girdwood site behind, the row of cottages is very small in comparison to the overall context of the site. I would have thought that, given the current economic and financial pressures, it would be common sense if the Government could sell those buildings off to the private sector or housing associations to be developed for private housing.

Mr Maitland:

You have produced a helpful idea. The community facilities would be available. They have not been specified in detail, and that is something that we want to work on. However, the jail would be a success only if it were used daily by people in the area. Without defining specific purposes at this stage, we wanted to have community facilities in the governor’s corridor, as well as the shop, the museum and the tours.

Mr Humphrey:

Have the community consultations been given serious consideration? There are concerns on the ground that they have not, given the Minister’s arbitrary decision with regard to the housing on the Girdwood site, for example.

Mr Maitland:

As I said in my introduction, that is the reason why the master plan is still a draft. Since housing is at the core of that, we expect that our colleagues in DSD will be bringing that forward to the Executive for resolution. However, that has been the case for a while. In the meantime, we did not want to hold things up and, therefore, we have been getting on with the jail. You mentioned the community hub enterprise, and we hope to continue discussions on that.

Mr Kinahan:

I am the new boy. I am concerned that, although these are things that we should be doing, we seem to be building without preparing ourselves with a proper plan for the future in most cases. Do we have views of the best-case and worst-case scenarios so that we are not left with a lot of white elephants? Have there been business cases for Ebrington, for example, if the art market does not work? Has someone looked at who will pay for the upkeep of everything when things are not working? As for the Crumlin Road, a lot is just based on hope. Again, who is going to look after the community facilities? What is the bottom-line cost that will fall back on government if things do not get there? We need to plan that into the future.

Mr Maitland:

On the last point, everything that we do must have a business plan and a business case. We are drafting an operating agreement at the moment for the community facilities and hope to put that out for tender to organisations that we hope will include the community sector, and may or may not be a social economy project. However, we want a viable business to run those core facilities for the jail that will provide professional visits and good facilities. We want to do that without it being a drain on successive budgets. That is the ideal.

Mr G Robinson:

I hope that I am not being too parochial, but you mentioned Shackleton Barracks in Ballykelly. Is there any push to take the Shackleton barracks site from the MOD? What is the latest position?

Mr Maitland:

I am afraid that the issues that we talked about earlier are still there. They have not been resolved, although Ministers are conscious that they need to be.

Mr G Robinson:

Are there any ongoing discussions with the MOD?

Mr Maitland:

Yes.

Mr G Robinson:

Maybe it is a bit premature to ask, but at this stage, has any interest been shown in the purchase of the site?

Mr Maitland:

No, I am afraid there has not.

Mr G Robinson:

Will it be possible to keep Limavady Borough Council updated on any progress on the sale or development of that site?

Mr Maitland:

If the council wants us to keep it up to date, I will be very happy to do that.

Mr G Robinson:

The council has an interest in it.

Mr Maitland:

It is not an easy site.

Mr G Robinson:

I appreciate that, but there are some good facilities on it.

Mr Maitland:

It is not the easiest time. There are difficulties with title, and with decontamination of the site. Ministers wanted to take it as far as they could before resolving everything.

Ms M Anderson:

I am sorry for being late and missing most of the presentation. I was at a Policing Board committee meeting. I have been working with Alan and others on the regeneration plan, and we have been involved in data collection and analysis. I was keen to follow up on the question about the outline business case. I sit on the strategy board for the development of the sites at Ebrington and Fort George, and we have been doing a lot of work. However, I was not aware that there was a strategic outline case. I am just trying to differentiate between that and the business case, if one is being prepared. I know that you said that there is little available detail about the joint-venture approach. Could you explain that? I am not sure what that means.

Public consultation is important, particularly in relation to the Crumlin Road site. We worked on evidence-based analysis of what was required, based on the objective needs of the area. I am keen to hear a bit more about the housing proposal that has been put forward, because there is a particular dearth of housing in North Belfast.

Mr Maitland:

I will address the last point first. I cannot say any more on DSD’s position, other than what has been said around the table. The regeneration plan is still sitting as a draft. If that were resolved by taking it to the Executive, things could, perhaps, move on in a different way. Public consultation, as we know from the Ilex example, is an important part of the process. It will be an important part of the regeneration of the Crumlin Road jail site, and we will continue to keep local stakeholders informed.

The strategic outline case is something that DFP asks for in big projects, normally where there is more than £20 million at stake, in order to get a brief overview of what the investment is going to be and what the benefit would be to the Government and the community. We asked Ilex to think about the strategic outline case for Fort George and Ebrington. Having done the pump-priming and laid down a basis for investors to be attracted to the site, we asked Ilex how it would see that being taken forward. Once it comes up with something that everybody agrees on and that makes economic sense, it will use that as the business case, which many of us know and love. Ilex brought forward an idea, which comes from across the water, of a joint venture with the private sector. That has proven to be quite a difficult concept, even though it could bring great benefits in theory. In very straightforward terms, the public sector would bring the value of the site into a third-party company or organisation and a private-sector developer would bring a similar sum of money, or lands to that value, into the independent venture, and together they would have sufficient funds to take forward the development site, to bring in other private-sector partners and to get specific outcomes.

Ms M Anderson:

Would the specific outcomes be shared equally between the public and private partners?

Mr Maitland:

In theory, yes. If both parties had a 50% stake in it, both would be in control. However, there are difficulties with public expenditure, and we have not been able to resolve those. That has been the case for quite some time, so we asked Ilex to bring forward some other proposals and to have experts examine how a joint venture could actually work here — never mind whether it could work across the water — and what would it take to make that work. That is the state of where that work is at the moment.

Ms M Anderson:

I have one last question about the City of Culture bid. We in the city are becoming increasingly concerned that the bid, which is sort of an award, given its competitive nature, has been presented to, for instance, DCAL as a business case, which it is not. It is the City of Culture bid, not a business case. Commentary is being made around the fact that £6 million is being skewed towards the World Police and Fire Games, which everyone welcomes, but nothing is being skewed by DCAL towards the City of Culture bid.

My questions to those working on the bid were: what business case was put forward and what was asked for? I was told that they asked for the City of Culture bid. However, surely they did not hand that over and say: “Can somebody somewhere give us money for something?” I am just wondering whether a strategic outline case was done for the City of Culture bid to identify capital or revenue projects.

Mr Maitland:

No, that is not my understanding. We have asked Ilex to produce a business case for the spend on the City of Culture bid.

Ms M Anderson:

Has that been requested?

Mr Maitland:

It has been requested, and we are waiting for it.

Ms M Anderson:

Is there a timeline for the business case?

Mr Maitland:

No, but we need one soon. OFMDFM — I am sure that this is the same for other Departments — must have business case cover for everything that it spends. There are a series of important projects for the City of Culture bid, and we need appropriate cover for them. Ilex knows about and is aware of that.

Mr Bresland:

Thank you for your presentation. I am going to speak about Lisanelly Barracks and St Lucia Barracks, both of which are in Omagh. The Lisanelly site is very large but has a small proportion of about 100 to 150 good dwelling houses. Could those houses be sold as they are? The St Lucia site is not so big, but nearly all its buildings are listed, so do those have to stay as they are?

Mr Maitland:

Listed buildings have to stay as they are. The fact that they are listed gives them a great deal of protection, and specific special planning approval would be needed to alter them or knock them down. Being practical, anyone who takes on the St Lucia site is taking on the buildings and the parade ground, all of which is listed.

Mr Bresland:

Are the dwellings listed?

Mr Maitland:

No. There are a lot of dwellings on the hillside. My understanding is that they will all have to go to make way for the educational campus.

Mr Bresland:

I thought that there was plenty of ground there.

The Chairperson:

That brings us to the end of this session. Thank you very much, Alan.

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