Connswater Community Greenway

Year:2017

Duration:4 years

Cost:£40m

Country: Belfast, Northern Ireland

What did this project achieve?

Combine and deliver a major flood protection scheme and 9km of parkland

East Belfast has a history of severe flooding. The 2007 flood was the largest on record with 340 flooded properties within the catchment of the Loop, Knock and Connswater rivers. Consequently, a number of at risk areas were identified where flood alleviation measures were necessary.

In 2006 the EastSide Partnership obtained funding from Big Lottery’s ‘Living Landmarks Programme’ to develop and build a 9km linear park scheme.

It became apparent that construction work for the flood works and the park could be combined. Because both proposals involved works along the same river corridors there were many areas of overlap which allowed for co-operation between both projects and programmes.

This joined-up approach minimised disruption to local communities and businesses affected by the works and delivered better value for money.

Connswater Community Greenway - new C.S. Lewis Civic Square sculpture of Aslan the Lion

Connswater Community Greenway - new C.S. Lewis Civic Square sculpture of Aslan the Lion

Project achievements and benefits

The Connswater Community Greenway and East Belfast Flood Alleviation Scheme contributes to the economic regeneration of East Belfast through investment, employment and tourism.

The scheme has created a 9km linear park through East Belfast connecting open and green spaces for use by cyclists and walkers alike while providing local communities with flood protection.

The park generally follows the routes of the 3 main rivers in the East Belfast area – the Loop, Knock and Connswater Rivers – which flow northwards from the Castlereagh hills to the sea at Belfast Lough. It reconnects communities, links existing open green spaces and provides remediation of the associated river corridors.

For the most part the works were undertaken as an integrated contract delivered by Belfast City Council as employer and funded proportionately by each party. The overall scheme comprised:

Phase 1

Realignment of the Knock River from its existing flow path to a more meandering one through existing parkland, upgrading existing entrances, new and upgraded pedestrian/cycle paths, bridges, lighting and hard and soft landscaping.

Phase 2

The main element of the overall project that cost c.£25m:

  • 9km of linear park for walking and cycling
  • 16km of foot and cycle paths
  • 26 new or improved bridges and crossings
  • cleaning 5km of rivers
  • hubs for education, interpretation points, tourism and heritage trails
  • CS Lewis themed square for celebrations and events
  • wildlife corridor from Belfast Lough to the Castlereagh Hills

The result is a vibrant, attractive, safe and accessible parkland for leisure, recreation, community events and activities at the same time as providing a high level of flood protection to 1,700 at risk properties in East Belfast.

It links local residents to parks, leisure facilities, businesses, shopping centre, schools and colleges.

It has acted as a catalyst for physical and economic development and improved access and connections for local communities to open spaces. It has created an environment that encourages healthier and more active communities, provided flood protection, enhanced river water quality and encouraged wildlife diversity.

Other social outcomes include a stronger, safer community, better access to training and development and better life chances.

“​‌

The experienced project team brought innovative ideas and engineering solutions enabling works to finish as scheduled on 12 separate handover dates.

Adrian Grimshaw

Belfast City Council

Fascinating facts

EastSide Partnership’s application for funding to Big Lottery was one of only 3 successful “Living Landmark” applications out of 300 submitted from across the UK.

The scheme has provided 1,700 properties within East Belfast with the national standard of flood protection against fluvial and tidal events.

The Conn O’Neill Bridge an archaeological focal point and subject of Van Morrison’s song ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ was carefully restored as part of the scheme.

People who made it happen

  • Client: Belfast City Council
  • EastSide Partnership
  • DfI Rivers
  • Department for Communities
  • Big Lottery
  • Arup
  • AECOM
  • McAdam Design
  • Jacobs
  • BSG Civil Engineering
  • Farrans (Construction)
  • Fox Contracts
  • Moore Concrete

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