The Westlink Backpath land is located along the rear of properties at Cullingtree Road on the west side of the Westlink. The land is within the Lower Falls Building Successful Communities (BSC) area (one of six pilot BSC areas). The Department for Communities (DfC) appointed Turley to prepare the Lower Falls Action Plan as part of the BSC programme. The Action Plan identified a number of catalyst projects and complimentary projects, including the proposed Westlink Backpath environmental improvement project.
A Westlink Backpath Feasibility Study was prepared by Turley, Park Hood, Atkins and Johnston Houston and published June 2016. The study assessed options for environmental improvements to the Westlink Backpath and identified a preferred option. The study recommended, following consultation, that the preferred option be adopted by DfC.
In addition, a Westlink Footbridge Feasibility Study was prepared by McAdam Design and published October 2017. The study assessed options for re-imaging the Westlink Footbridge. The footbridge connects the Westlink Backpath at Cullingtree Road to Durham Street and is owned by DfI Roads (maintenance is contracted to Highway Management (City) Ltd under a DBFO contract). The study recommended a preferred option for re-imaging that included a new ‘hooped’ security cage.
The Department for Communities submitted a planning application (LA04/2018/0323/F) in January 2018 for the land on the west side of the Westlink (referred to as the Backpath). The application proposes a “sports ‘Active Zone’ with sprint track, covered MUGA area, outdoor gym equipment, street lighting, landscaping, toilet pod, high security fencing, storage area, car parking with access from Albert St; Community Garden Zone including raised bed planting, polytunnel, junior play area, street lighting, landscaping and high security fencing; new ramp access to Westlink Footbridge; extension of car park and play area at Frank Gillen Centre”
The Department for Communities also propose public realm improvements at Albert Steet and Cullingtree Road, adjacent the Westlink Backpath project.