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Belfast Harbour announces £254m investment plan to create 10,000 jobs

Belfast Harbour has already started work on the £50m City Quays 3 building
Ryan McAleer

Belfast Harbour has announced a £254 million investment programme, which it says will generate 10,000 jobs over the next four years.

The major infrastructure projects include City Quays 4, a 250-bed build-to-rent apartment development and the creation of a new five-storey office facility at Catalyst Inc, the science and technology hub in the Titanic Quarter.

Construction is already under way on the £50m City Quays 3 building, which will become the north's tallest offices when complete.

The Harbour said research from Ulster University's Economic Policy Centre concluded that the investment will generate 7,000 new jobs and support a further 3,500 construction jobs.

It's estimated that it could be worth £500m for the Northern Ireland economy and generate an additional £300m in wages.

The £254m commitment is contained in a new report outlining the Port's long-term strategy, which was unveiled yesterday at Belfast Harbour's annual stakeholder meeting.

Additional new film studios and a media hub at Giant's Park are also in the pipeline over the next four years, along with new public realm space.

The investment will also include upgrades to cranes and material handling equipment, the installation of new ramps to accommodate larger vessels and the construction of new storage facilities.

New ‘smart port' initiatives are also on the agenda, as the Harbour seeks to provide more automation.

Largely based on the 2019-23 period, it also outlines longer term commitments, including a massive scheme to deepen the port's shipping channel to accommodate larger vessels and the development of more film studios and office buildings.

Speaking at the meeting, Belfast Harbour's chairman David Dobbin said the plans will ensure the port is fit for purpose and able to adapt to technological, economic and social changes in the 21st century.

“We want to become the world's best regional port and create an iconic waterfront district for Belfast which will be an attractive place to live, work, visit and invest in,” he said.

“This will bring huge benefits for our customers, the regional economy and all our citizens. We can't deliver our ambitious plans by ourselves which is why a partnership approach is a key part of our strategy. If Northern Ireland is going to be competitive on the global stage then we need to work together, collaborate more and invest in key infrastructure.

“This major investment programme is really only possible because of our Trust Port status which allows us to reinvest every penny of our net earnings back into the business.”

The Harbour's chief executive Joe O'Neill described the plans as the most ambitious in the port's history.

“Belfast City Council's aim is to accommodate 66,000 new residents, create 46,000 additional jobs, and develop 550,000 sq m of employment floor space by 2035. Belfast Harbour's proposals will be pivotal in helping meet those targets.”

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