A community questionnaire was sent to over 500 different groups in the council areas of Belfast, Lisburn, Antrim and Newtownabbey where people’s interest in taking part in various projects and providing suggestions about sites in the hills that are important to them was tested. Meetings with individual groups as well as an open community meeting were also held to get input on community priorities.

Many groups were interested in local history and taking part in projects relating to such. There were a number of suggestions of sites to be restored or interpreted. These included recognition of those who died in airplane crashes on Carnmoney Hill during World War II, various information panels, a townlands patchwork quilt, work on the Half Moon Lake site and a seat with heritage features on Cave Hill designed by Cave Hill Conservation Campaign.

These suggestions formed the basis of projects which we undertook through the Landscape Partnership Scheme.

Development was, and still is, an issue of great relevance to community groups, with applications for large housing estates, an incinerator, wind turbines and other plans often being submitted within the wider Belfast Hills area. During the Landscape Partnership Scheme, our outreach officer aimed to empower the communities themselves to respond. This was important to improve the standards and expectations of plans, so protecting the hills against inappropriate development.