The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) is pushing ahead with their 25 year greenway strategy. Grants of £75,000 split between three projects is a small but important first step towards the goal of creating a world-leading network of greenways across the country.
An overarching Greenway Strategy for Northern Ireland was launched by DfI in November 2016 with a vision to build 1,000km of greenways over the next 25 years with an estimated capital cost of £150m. DfI has been running a greenway funding competition since summer 2016 to engage local councils in Northern Ireland who will take the lead on greenway delivery under the strategy.
The three stages of the competition have been designed to hone greenway development skills and expertise within councils:
- all eleven councils presented 27 project concepts in total in summer 2016
- ten councils / 20 projects selected for £8,000 funding to develop feasibility studies
- three councils / three projects selected for £25,000 funding to become shovel-ready
Also included in today’s announcement is confirmation that a Capital Grants Funding
programme is being worked on – the watershed moment as we move from ideas to actually constructing greenway schemes.
Naturally any capital investment from government will require a working Executive and Minister to determine the funding levels – and information last week from DfI indicated that the Capital Grants scheme is unlikely to be up and running before March 2018.
But the press releases also make clear that councils won’t be excluded from applying based on performance in the current three stage competition – project proposals will stand or fall on their own merit. As Andrew Grieve from DfI’s Cycling Unit said:
“All councils are encouraged to continue the good work they have been doing in this area as the [Capital Grants] Programme, when available, will be open to schemes with detailed designs and project bids.”
Carryduff Greenway (Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council)
The Carryduff Greenway has the potential to replicate the success of the Connswater Community Greenway and to give extra commuting options into Belfast. It’s a radical plan to make a traffic-free route between green spaces in the town, the reservoir and towards Belfast.
The proposed route will start in Carryduff and travel northwards to Cairnshill Park & Ride, with access to local and regional parks or further sustainable transport routes. Although a relatively short greenway project, the potential for connectivity is great, due to the densely populated residential areas surrounding it at either end.
Alderman James Tinsley, Chairman of the Council’s Leisure & Community Development Committee, said:
“Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council is committed to ensuring maximum use of green, open spaces within its area for tourism and recreation. Through the development of a Carryduff Greenway an opportunity will become available for residents to exercise through walking, running and cycling along a safe, traffic-free route.
“Such a community greenway will also create an essential corridor link between two
residential areas within Lisburn Castlereagh while allowing the establishment of wildlife habitats, which will be in keeping with the Council’s Biodiversity Strategy.
“Greenways such as the one we would like to establish in Carryduff have the potential to connect communities and reduce pollution and congestion through lower reliance on cars.”
Greenisland Greenway (2.7km, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council)
The Greenisland Greenway aims to sweep up from Greenisland railway station into Monkstown and could link with the popular Newtownabbey Greenway. It’s probably the only greenway plan in the country where the land is still almost all publicly owned, as it’s technically still part of the railway network – although the rails have been lifted.
It’s an opportunity to link two communities and involves creating a 2.7km traffic-free path between Monkstown and Greenisland. Located as it is within an urban area surrounded by housing and linked to public transport, there is significant modal shift possibilities while also providing a wonderful open space for local communities.
Anne Donaghy, Chief Executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said:
“Greenways across our Borough are in the future plans for Mid and East Antrim. Thanks to the £25,000 of funding which will now be coming from the Department, we will ensure that we deliver a robust bid and detailed design in order to apply for 75% funding to see this exciting project through to completion.
“Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is committed to developing greenways throughout our Borough as the people of Mid and East Antrim recognise the many social, economic and environmental benefits that greenways bring to an area. The Greenisland Greenway is just one way that this Council aims to meet the environmental and access needs of our citizens as captured through our community planning process.
“Greenways offer an opportunity to connect existing walking and cycling routes to encourage less dependency on cars as well as promote good health and well-being.”
Comber Newtownards Greenway (12km, Ards and North Down Borough Council)
The Comber Greenway also looks set to get a major extension across Comber town to the banks of Strangford Lough and into Newtownards.
The proposed route would extend to the Comber Greenway into Comber town centre by following the Enler and Comber Rivers on approach to Strangford Lough. It continues along the shoreline to Island Hill before joining up with the Strangford flood protection bank.
Continues to the Floodgates at the Portaferry Road in N’Ards, around Londonderry Park and the canal path. The total length of the route is approximately 12km.
With land ownership and access issues to be decided in-depth at this stage, there may be scope to look at accessing some part of the old Belfast & County Down Railway (BCDR) track bed into Newtownards. Agricultural development and housing on the line will likely prevent full reuse, however there is a clear run along the back of the West Winds estate which could be claimed for greenway development.