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Human Jigsaw highlights community in the Connswater Greenway

14 Sep 2017
 Human Jigsaw highlights community in the Connswater Greenway

More than 100 people have created an outsized jigsaw replicating a map of the Connswater Community Greenway to celebrate the official opening of the east Belfast attraction.

Belfast’s Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Sonia Copeland, was joined at the ‘Piece Together’ event by the UK Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, Peter Ainsworth, and other stakeholders to celebrate the completion of construction works.

The £40 million project - funded by the Big Lottery Fund, the council, the Department for Communities, and the Department for Infrastructure - links the Connswater, Loop and Knock rivers to provide a 9km linear park connecting people and places. 

It has helped to regenerate the east Belfast area, and provide a superb space for physical and social activities while linking communities from the Castlereagh Hills to Belfast Lough.

In addition, £13 million provided by the Department for Infrastructure as part of the East Belfast Flood Alleviation scheme was incorporated into the Community Greenway works. This will help protect 1,700 homes from the risks of flooding, so adding even more to project’s community benefits.

Councillor Copeland said: “Connswater Community Greenway is not just an asset to east Belfast it has become a destination stop for visitors too providing as it does a very different view of an industrial city.

“Seven tourism and heritage trails, 23 new or improved bridges, 5km of restored waterways, Narnia themed public art pieces and the wonderful CS Lewis Square have been created as part of the project. This is in large part thanks to the generosity of the Big Lottery Fund and National Lottery Players as well as the ratepayers of Belfast.

“As part of the Belfast Agenda we want to create a great city and neighbourhood living experience - Connswater Community Greenway fulfils those aims. It highlights a large part of the history of this part of Belfast, celebrating as it does famous writers and artistes, as well as memorable places en-route. 
“It has been a challenge and an opportunity and as we move forward with the Belfast Agenda to improve the quality of life for people living, working or visiting Belfast, we will incorporate many of the lessons learned as the Connswater Community Greenway came into being,” said the Deputy Lord Mayor.

 “This is a community asset in which the communities themselves had an important input, providing a real sense of ownership which they will continue to enjoy for generations to come.

“Who can forget Belfast’s cultural and historical contribution as they pass over the Sam Thompson or James Ellis Bridges, sing along with Van the Man or celebrate Narnia? 

“I congratulate everyone involved in making a dream by the Eastside Partnership into reality for everyone who lives in, works in or visits Belfast,” added the councillor.

Peter Ainsworth, UK Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, said:  “It’s wonderful to see how the investment of National Lottery funding has transformed this area – we were proud to be able to invest the first major grant which helped develop the vision for the Connswater Community Greenway. 

“This is a ground breaking project that has captured the imagination of local people. I’d like to thank the other funders, local community and National Lottery players as your contribution has helped create this amazing space that is improving people’s lives. This project will truly have a lasting legacy for generations to come.”

Community groups and funders each walked separate parts of the Connswater Community Greenway before coming together from all directions under the gaze of Aslan at CS Lewis Square. Since its creation as part of the Greenway the Square has become one of the most attractive meeting spaces in Belfast.

Other improvement include realigning the Knock River in Victoria and Orangefield Parks to lessen the risk of flooding and make the river more of a feature. Two new play parks and multi-use games areas have been created for families to enjoy.

The Greenway serves 23 schools and colleges providing safe access and routes for young people and families to walk, cycle, hop, or skate. Along the Greenway 1,105 new trees, 17,434m2 of wildflowers, and 7,267 new shrubs have been planted. The Conn O Neill Bridge – an archaeological focal point and subject of Van Morrison’s ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ was carefully restored. The Connswater Community Greenway logo reflects the meeting of the Connswater, Loop and Knock rivers at the Hollow.

Michele Bryans, Acting Manager, Connswater Community Greenway, said: “It is a huge milestone to celebrate the finished works on the Connswater Community Greenway. It is fantastic to see the plans for the Greenway becoming a reality – a lasting legacy for many years to come. We wish to thank everyone who has contributed to the success of the project.”

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