Blackstaff Community Development Association held its inaugural meeting in Kelvin Secretary School on Tuesday, 2nd May 1978. The first chairman was the school's headmaster, Mr Maurice Thompson. Two of the main objects of the BCDA are: (1) To provide a forum where complaints may be ventilated and, by discussion and constructive criticism strive to improve the standard of life for the residents of the Blackstaff Ward. (2) To assist Government Departments, Local Authorities and other bodies, by discussing and giving the possible reaction to schemes proposed; to initiate discussions on schemes which, in the opinion of the association, would contribute to the development of the Blackstaff Community.
The BCDA has been involved in a wide range of issues. In regard to housing, it was instrumental in forming Glenmachan / Tavanagh Housing Action Committee and Roden Street Housing Action Committee. These two committees worked with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in developing an agreed approach to housing issues in the area. This involved demolishing the worst housing and keeping the best of the old. The result was the building of new houses alongside the existing houses. This policy proved very successful and even the most recent proposals contain a comitment to keep and make possible Improvements to these houses. This commitment is in regard to lower Lecale Street, Benburb Street and Tavanagh Street. These streets are now part of the proposed improvement area. Other excellent examples can also be seen at Connaught Street and Symons Street (not part of the URA). There has also been considerable infill in terraced streets throughout the Donegall Road area and proves beyond a shadow of doubt that a mixed policy of old and new can be successful.
It was our understanding that this policy would then be extended when BCDA helped form a residents committee in May 1986, covering the streets from Tavanagh Street to Moltke Street and also the four Monarch streets. This area was outlined in a NIHE report in June 1988, entitled Monarch / Ebor H.A.A. It however excluded Tavanagh Street.
Unfortunately the NIHE, thereafter adopted a policy of redevelopment and a rejection of an infill option which was supported by the community. It was simply put to them, that if they rejected redevelopment, then they would be left to market forces. Redevelopment was rejected by the community and the NIHE did as they said, and left the community to market forces.
BCDA members were very concerned that this decision by the NIHE would see a deterioration in the area. For a time this seemed to be the case, however there were signs that the area was steadily regenerating itself. The regeneration escalated considerably over the last three years and even seen an increase in the number of young people purchasing homes. Although BCDA was delighted to see the improvements, it was felt that there was a strong need for a clear unified design policy for the area.
The BCDA held a number of meetings, including one public meeting to review ongoing developments. It was finally decided to form a Donegall Avenue / Tavanagh Street sub-committee, consisting of local residents from nine streets. We distributed leaflets asking for volunteers to serve on the committee. After receiving some applications to join the committee, the GVRT announced that it was forming a Housing Focus Committee supported by the NIHE.
The Greater Village Trust’s Community Consultation Survey in 2005, gave residents the choice of 6 options. The NIHE’s general advice and guidance on redevelopment states,