Greenways competition for Northern Ireland

Transport Minister Michelle McIlveen has announced a small grants programme for the development of greenway projects across Northern Ireland.

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This competitive scheme is aimed at providing support for councils to work up projects that will be able to deliver a step change in greenway provision.

“I am delighted to be able to announce this new initiative. As a user of the Comber Greenway I recognise the value of greenways. They are an excellent way to enable people to incorporate activity into their everyday routine – whether as a means of travelling or for recreation and leisure. These off-road traffic-free routes provide a safe environment to give people the freedom and confidence to use the bicycle for everyday journeys.

“A number of councils have already undertaken work on greenways in their areas and I believe there is great potential to do much more. Providing support to councils in the development of greenways is one of the objectives set out in the Bicycle Strategy and this small grants programme is aimed at doing just that.”

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The small grants programme will be a three stage competition to encourage councils to develop detailed designs and feasibility studies for local greenway projects:

Stage 1

Councils will be invited to express interest in the programme with a brief outline of the project or projects they would like to develop.

Stage 2

Up to eight of those projects will be selected and provided with a small grant of up to £8,000 to enable them to develop concept design options, a feasibility study and a business case.

Stage 3

Up to four of those projects will be selected and provided with a small grant of up to £25,000 to develop their designs in more detail and to provide a fully worked up project bid for assessment.

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The Minister added:

“Work is continuing on a Strategic Plan for Greenways for Northern Ireland and I expect it to be available around the end of April. This plan will provide a framework to assist Councils in developing their proposals for this competition and I will be writing to them with details of the small grants programme for greenways after Easter.”

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Comment

Excellent news as the greenways vision for Northern Ireland gathers momentum towards the 2016 Assembly elections.

There are at least four of 11 local councils already actively engaged in feasibility studies or with project plans at advanced stages, so this competition can help to encourage more areas to consider the economic possibilities of greenway development.

I understand the Department will look to ‘devolve’ the creation of greenways to councils, while retaining an overarching role in standardisation of route quality, signage and so on. Exciting times for Northern Ireland.

3 thoughts on “Greenways competition for Northern Ireland

  1. Jonathan….small beginnings!! But at least its a beginning. Alongside the recently announced cross border EU funding for Greenways, it should help to move cycling up the agenda!

  2. Great to see that so much hard work and painstaking research has already been carried out to promote the idea of multiuser Greenways here. My father (87) grew up in Annsborough–between Castlewellan and Clough–at a time when there were railways all over County Down and when people used them and also walked or bicycled miles to work, to dances, to church, to shop, to sell their goods and for a multitude of other purposes. He witnessed how local communities languished and emptied out and how businesses failed in the wake of rail closures. He would dearly love to see abandoned rail beds and market paths throughout the countryside re-opened and to see people out using them. In fact, he has already been out bicycling currently available restored canal towpaths and railways beds throughout Ireland with his middle-aged children and adult grandchildren! (He’s now eyeing the Caledonian trail system across the Irish Sea.)

    For me, there’s little doubt that the Greenways would appeal to locals, tourists, visitors, retirees, and new or relocating businesses in the so-called ‘knowledge economy’. Two years ago, we moved from the United States back to the Newcastle area in great part because of the many splendid opportunities for outdoor recreation. All of our American visitors so far (former neighbours) have been walkers and bicyclists, eager to explore our delightful countryside, its many historical sites and, of course, its many excellent restaurants and pubs. As we enjoy telling ourselves, we produce a wealth of talent and creativity here. If we want to retain those people or draw them home again, attract new business, promote economic diversity and create jobs, then enhancing our recreational opportunities with this amazing proposed system of Greenways will help put us on a competitive footing with desirable locations worldwide.

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