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Work begins on £4m Lagan Gateway project

The first sod has been cut on a new £4 million Lagan Gateway project at Stranmillis. Pictured at the sod-cutting are: Owen McGivern, DfI; Valerie Ingram, Ulster Garden Villages and councillor Deirdre Hargey, chair of Belfast City Council’s strategic policy and resources committee
Gareth McKeown

WORK has started on a major £4 million project to transform a 19th century waterway in south Belfast.

The first sod was cut yesterday on the new Lagan Gateway, which it is hoped will provide a boost to tourism as well as create jobs and business opportunities in the locality.

The project, funded by Belfast City Council, the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) and Ulster Garden Villages, aims to to re-open a waterway, built in the 1800’s to connect Belfast and Lough Neagh and formerly, was one of the busiest on the island of Ireland.

Among the work taking place is the creation of a foot and cycle bridge linking Annadale Embankment and Stranmillis, the development of a navigational lock, refurbishment of the existing weir in addition to landscaping and associated path connections.

Belfast Sinn Féin councillor Deirdre Hargey said the project will "revitalise" the local area.

“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."

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

"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.”

Belfast firm Lagan Construction Group has been appointed as contractors for the infrastructure project.

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