While the recommendations were published last month, the review itself was not, and the minister has now said she has no plans to do so.
In response to an Assembly question tabled by Alliance MLA Andrew Muir, Ms Mallon said: “For a Project Assurance Review to be effective and of value, exchanges between interviewees and the panel need to be open, frank and confidential in nature. As such, in line with the guidance [from the Department of Finance], I do not plan to publish this report. I have, however, published the six recommendations of the review and I have asked for further work to be carried out on the recommendations, the outcome of which is to be reported to me in the autumn of 2021.”
The York Street Interchange project aims to transform traffic flow at the intersection of the Westlink, M2 and M3 – Northern Ireland’s busiest road junction.
Proposed York Street Interchange
It has been plagued by delays for years and, while consultants carrying out further work are due to report back in the autumn, it is unclear when construction work will get under way.
Mr Muir said that, “in the interests of full transparency”, he would call on the minister to publish the review.
“This is a multi-million pound project with huge implications for Northern Ireland. Furthermore, this project has been delayed by numerous significant issues in the past, and serious concerns have been raised by local residents and businesses,” he said. “Given this, it’s important that the issues raised in the Project Assurance Review need to be out in the open so they can be addressed in full. We need clarity on the road forward for the York Street Interchange, not a new cul de sac of delays.”
Ulster Unionist infrastructure spokesperson Roy Beggs also voiced concern.
“It is disappointing that after eight months of what was trailed as a ‘short sharp review’ into the York Street Junction upgrade, further delays have been announced as the Infrastructure Minister has re-specified the project brief of the scheme, which may well result in the redesign of the scheme,” he said.
“This in turn could result in a fresh planning application and consultation, and writing off the significant design and planning investment that has already occurred at public expense.
“At the very least the report which has been given to the minister from the review of the scheme should be published so that the public can have some understanding why the earlier public investment in gaining planning permission is not being acted upon and may now be written off. If a better scheme can be produced at a lower cost, the public deserve to have some idea of what is being planned.”
Recommendations made in the review include ensuring current project costs are updated to act as a benchmark to inform any decision on future alternative development and for “much closer” co-ordination both within the Department for Infrastructure (DfI), and between DfI and other relevant departments and interested parties.
Speaking following during the announcement that the recommendations had been accepted, Ms Mallon said: “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.”
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Articles may come from parliamentary reports, various public news feeds and Google News Search. Content is republished here for context. Copyright is respected and remains with the original author at all times. Original Article:https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/belfast/roads-minister-nichola-mallon-urged-to-publish-review-of-york-street-project-40309536.html