City councillors agreed to a variation in the city development to change the zoning of a 2.9-hectare site at Tinkers Cross in Mayfield from a sports ground to public open space to help deliver the major junction improvement scheme.
It is expected the remaining part of the site, given its new zoning, will be redesigned as a public park as part of the Glen Valley Strategy. Work is due to begin in the autumn.
The vote on the variation followed assurances from city manager Tim Lucey about the wider benefits that would accrue to the public arising out of the decision which aims to secure road improvements.
He said that, as well as improving traffic flow and safety, the change in zoning would also secure the site for public use.
And the city manager also confirmed there was no issue with the availability of funding to carry out the project.
The proposed road improvement works involves the relocation by 70m northwards of the existing signalised junction of the North Ring Rd and the Old Youghal Rd, and the realignment of the Old Youghal Rd to form a crossroads junction at the entrance to the Lagan Grove housing estate.
The project includes bus lanes, cycle lanes, and improved footpaths.
However, the proposed new road runs right through a green area at Tinkers Cross zoned as sports ground in the 2009-15 city development plan.
The zoning includes the objective to “protect, retain and enhance the range and quality of sports facilities and grounds”. There is a presumption against the loss of zoned sports ground to other forms of development.
The site, bounded by the Glen river, was used as a city council playing pitch in the 1980s.
But in a report to the city council, Mr Lucey said due to poor drainage, it has not been in formal sports use for 20 years, and is considered unsuitable for formalised sports use.
Following the advertisement of the proposed variation, three submissions were received. The submissions from locally based Cllr John Kelleher and the Mayfield East Community Association both backed the proposal.