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Lagan Gateway work gets underway

8 Nov 2017
Work to revitalise a 19th century waterway creating a new Lagan Gateway boosting tourism, jobs and business opportunities is getting underway at Stranmillis.

Funders, including Belfast City Council, the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) and Ulster Garden Villages have now cut the first sod on the £4 million project.

The aim is to reopen a waterway, built in the 1800’s to connect Belfast and Lough Neagh and which was, in its time, one of the busiest on the island of Ireland.

Councillor Deirdre Hargey, Chair of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, said:

“This is a fascinating and interesting project that we hope will help revitalise this area of Stranmillis. 

“This stretch of the river marks the start of the Lagan Canal and towpath which is already incredibly popular with walkers and cyclists. By creating a new bridge for pedestrians and cyclists as well as new pathways, we will improve connections with the surrounding areas and hopefully encourage more people to explore this part of the city on foot and by bike.

“Council funding for this project comes from our Belfast Investment Fund (BIF) and in line with the aims of our Belfast Agenda we are working in partnership with other statutory and voluntary agencies, including DfI, Department for Communities, Ulster Garden Villages and Lagan Navigation Trust, to maximise the investment,” added Councillor Hargey.

Among the work being undertaken to bring it back to life are: 

Developing a navigation lock;
An iconic foot and cycle bridge linking Annadale Embankment and Stranmillis; 
Refurbishment of the existing weir; and
High quality landscaping with associated path connections.

Owen McGivern from the DfI, which is funding the refurbishment of the weir, said: 

“The Department is delighted to be part of the Lagan Gateway Project which aims to regenerate this 19th century waterway. Refurbishing the Stranmillis Weir will be a key part of this and we are working jointly with Belfast City Council to deliver this improvement. 

“Works on the weir are starting immediately and should be complete by spring 2018. This will include infrastructure repair, upgrading of mechanical/electrical equipment and the replacement of the three sluice gates. The weir is required to regulate river flows by providing upstream flood storage at times when the Lagan Weir is in operation and downstream water levels are high.  This consequentially will reduce the threat of flooding to downstream areas.”

Some 15 years ago Ulster Garden Villages advised that they were prepared to put £1 million into a viable project to open up the River Lagan to the canal system with the Lagan Navigation Trust. The Chairman of Ulster Garden Villages, Dr Tony Hopkins CBE said: 

“We are very pleased at the vision shown by Belfast City Council and the Departmental funders to accomplish this as part of an outstanding scheme which will make the area attractive for citizens and tourists wishing to walk along both the river and the canal.”

John Cunningham, Managing Director of Civils Division, Lagan Construction Group, added: 

“Lagan Construction Group is delighted to have secured this significant infrastructure contract from Belfast City Council. Our dedicated team are fully committed to delivering this project successfully.”

sod cutting