Work starts on extension at Colin Glen Forest Park in west Belfast
WORK has started on a major extension of the facilities at Colin Glen Forest Park in west Belfast.
The significant investment, which owners state, will create one of the most exciting park amenities in Northern Ireland, includes the development of new sporting attractions, as well as leisure amenities.
The news follows the decision by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) to hand over ownership of the complex to the community-based Colin Glen Trust on a 999-year lease.
The extension will add to existing facilities at the park, which include 200 acres of scenic woodland, grassland, waterfalls and pathways, a Gruffalo adventure trail and the Skytrek adventure centre.
Colin O'Neill, chief executive of Colin Glen Forest Park hailed a "new era" for west Belfast and the wider community.
“The 999-year lease gives us the security we need to push ahead quickly with the exciting investment plans our board has shaped for the further development of the incredible natural amenities available for local people and visitors to experience and enjoy."
“Our exciting future plans represent a huge investment in the regeneration of west Belfast and will enable many more people to enjoy the park and indeed the gateway it provides to the spectacular natural environment of the Belfast hills," Mr O'Neill said.
David Raymond, Colin Glen Trust chairman, said the agreement is another step in creating a "world class recreation and leisure attraction" for Belfast and Northern Ireland.
"The long-term security the agreement provides will enable us to source investment required for the ambitious plans we have developed for the future of what is probably the city's biggest ‘green lung' amenity."
NIEA chief executive, David Small added: “Colin Glen is a magnificent natural resource and community asset for the area, and it has evolved in recent years under the stewardship of the Colin Glen Trust.”